A fine example of hedgehoggery


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.

9 Comments on “A fine example of hedgehoggery

  1. I call that neat ‘prunig with hedge shears” doing an Ivy after my mother-inlaw. we would drive around and say ‘look Iv’s been here’ (she dies some time ago)! And if a shrub’s natural inclination was to be graceful and drooping she would ‘do an Ivy’ and keep it in check. the other expression I use is after my Ikebana teacher Megan who would be really ruthless with her pruning and now referred to as ‘doing a Megan” A great teacher of both gardening and Ikebana. Gorgeous early spring day here, blu’ blu day – off to take 3 dogs for walk on beach. Dog/cat/house sitting while daughter and family are having a ski weekend at Ruepahu (middle North Island) fresh snow, gorgeous blue down there as well. they sure picked the right weekend to go to the snow! so many magnolias out now! Love them!

  2. ‘A kind of hedgehog on stilts’ – what fabulous imagery from Christopher Lloyd’. I think that pruning is often approached differently according to gender. Hope that your grevillia responds well to its haircut Helen and rewards you with a wealth of flowers next year.

    • Hi Anna
      I actually think Lloyd’s earlier books are better written and more entertaining than the last ones. Maybe the lack of photographs made him more descriptive

  3. A fine tribute in hedgehoggery. The garden is always filled with stories and memories and reminders of friends and family, the stories are often more important than the plants.

  4. I love my plants to bits and dread it when ‘im indoors goes out armed with his secateurs – I hide them but he always managed to retrieve them!!

  5. I prune bit by bit, in the hopes that only I will notice that plant was pruned. Takes ages, but I get rewarded with a second wave of flowers.

  6. ps Came home to a beautiful clear view of Little Barrier, and Great Barrier Island , such a clear day AND as the olives had been ruthlessly pruned have now a wide sea view again. They look pretty stark but will leaf up. The islands and Coromandel not always visible, long way away and cloud can obscure. NO POLUTION THO”!!!

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