It is a family joke that my parents, especially my father, loved to dome shrubs when he was pruning. I often despaired as to me the beauty of many shrubs is their ranging wide-spread form.
Over the last few days I have been seeking solace in Christopher Lloyd’s The Adventurous Gardener and reading bits of mum which amuse me. The passage entitled ‘Some Reactions to Cutting Back’ made her chuckle too. In it Lloyd discusses the differences between pruning and cutting back:
“Pruning is supposed to be for the welfare of the tree or shrub; cutting back is for the satisfaction of the satisfaction of the cutter. Some gardeners have a cutting back mentality..”
Lloyd argues that regular cutting back of shrubs which should have “branches laden with swags of blossom” turns them into a “kind of hedgehog on stilts”. Mum and I laughed as this reminded us of Dad and his doming.
Shortly afterwards I went out to tackle the Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’ which has been outgrowing its space in the front garden (see top photograph – taken in May). If we have heavy snow the branches can snap so I wanted to give it a good cutting back which I also hoped would promote more flowers next year since over the last few years the amount of flowers have declined. The Grevillea has a very coniferous appearance with branches splaying out. The shrub was completely dominating the border in the front garden which was fine but it had got to the stage were the branches at the back were beginning to obstruct the footpath and crowd the birch.
And the result? A dome much to my mother’s amusement. A fine example of ‘hedgehoggery’. However I don’t see how else I could have pruned it! I suspect I should have cut it further back as you should prune a shrub to smaller than the actual size you want but I was worried that if I went further it would look really awful. No doubt I will regret this decision and if so I will prune it again next year and be more aggressive. I shall give the shrub a feed and hope that it will reshoot in a less dome like fashion. Now to work out what to plant in the border in front of it which is a disaster.