SHRUBS AND TREES

Obviously the first step is planting, and in each case a hole should be dug of sufficient width to take the spread of the roots and about 2 ft. deep or more depending on the length of the main root, the bottom of which should rest on soil below which is rubble for drainage if the land is badly drained, then compost or well-rotted manure for future sustenance when the shrub or tree is established and making new growth.

Planting Points:

In planting do not put in too deeply; this is a common fault. Plant just low enough for the ring showing the plant’s previous ground level to be at the surface. If lower, the bark at that part rots in the rains, makes a harbour for insects, and future growth is spoiled. After the drainage, and the manure or compost, put in a layer of the appropriate soil mixture, firm it and rest the roots on that. Then put in a substantial stake not less than three parts the length of the shrub in height, and hammer it in 1 ft. deep, staying it with stones if the soil is very friable. Then put in the shrub and fasten it to the stake not by a direct tie, but by encircling the stake, making it fast with a sailor’s knot, a couple of inches of hessian or sacking round the main stem of the shrub and tying over this protective wrapping, using enough string to withstand the strain of gales. Then complete filling in soil, treading in firmly and watering copiously. If the shrub is put on a lawn skim off the turf for a couple of feet all round.

When to Plant:

In planting, be guided by the nature of the shrub. If it is evergreen, do the planting in September or early May; if it is deciduous (loses its leaves in winter), plant in October. In any case it is best to do all planting or re-planting between late September and March. By doing it before Christmas a season is saved, for if planted in the January to March period shrubs or trees will establish all right but will not have the advantage of the longer period of development and may miss a flowering.

Pruning:

Details of needed pruning are given as necessary in the entries for named shrubs and trees; others are particularised below, but it may be taken as a universal guide that where flowers grow on year-old shoots, one should prune away older and decayed wood and any growth which impedes light; if on the current year’s growth, one should prune off more freely wood that has had its day of flower bearing. Although ornamental trees do not need such systematic pruning as fruit trees, it is wise to prevent overcrowding and to secure a symmetrical branch system. The shapely appearance of many trees is spoilt because more than one leading shoot is allowed to grow. The shoot that extends the main stem should be kept clear of subsidiaries. Some of the flowering trees, crab and laburnum for example, branch out naturally and possess no definite leader; they are improved as they grow older by thinning out shoots which crowd the centre of the tree.

Suckers from the under-stock and shoots on the stems of standard trees should be cut away.

Shrubs which bear their flowers on the fresh shoots that have still to grow may be pruned in January. Chief of these are Ceanothus Gloire de Versailles and other varieties of that type; Spiraea japonica and its varieties; clematis of the Jackmanii and viticella types: Hypericum calycinum and Buddleia variabilis. Golden elder and the purple-leaved sumach, whose charms lie in their richly-coloured leaves, also need to be pruned hard. Some of the shrubs which bloom in June and early July are pruned as soon as the flowers are over by cutting out the old branches or parts of them, to force the growth of fresh shoots for next year’s blossoming. These include philadelphus or mock orange, Buddleia alternifolia, Deutzia and Weigela (diervilla). Lilac bushes should be thinned out and broom (cytisus) cut to prevent the seed developing and so lessening next year’s robustness.

There is much pruning to be done during January among ornamental trees and shrubs. The flowering crabs, for example, become overcrowded with small shoots if pruning is neglected for a few years, and a good deal of thinning out is required. Extra vigorous branches which spoil the shape of the trees should be shortened to restore the balance of growth. Lilac bushes often fail to flower well because shoots and branches are crowded. January is the time to thin them out. Any suckers should also be cut out, to save the main bush reverting. The same applies to shrubs in general.

Certain shrubs that bloom in late summer are pruned by cutting back the shoots early in the year, say January. Some are given in an earlier paragraph; others are Hydrangea panicalata and Spiraea Douglasii. Summer-flowering heathers should be cut over with shears to remove the old blooms.

The All Shrub Border:

Those who have a border entirely devoted to shrubs can claim certain advantages over the herbaceous border. By its very nature a shrub border never presents a desolate appearance in winter, and for the interested gardener there is always something doing. In addition to all this, shrubs are economical in upkeep. A considerable number indeed show a decided preference for being left alone. They all ask, however, for careful planting, an operation on which their future success very largely depends.

Where it is decided to have an all shrub border, it is of advantage to its beauty so to dispose shrubs of differing flowering periods that there is a show all the year in -every part of the border rather than the patchy effect of grouping. To this end the following table will be useful:

Early Flowering:

Ribes.

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