Select Page

Garden Reports and Rejoicing – December 12

I heard a nice interview of James Swan on WGBH radio today. James is the author of 101 Things I Hate About Your House: A Premier Designer Takes You on a Room-by-Room Tour to Transform Your Home from Faux Pas to Fabulous.

Yes, it’s one of the longest subtitles in book history but it does get the point across. And he was, btw, a charming radio guest who made me decide to order this book.

The title also sparked an idea for a series of blog posts. Since this is a blog not a book, I’m not going to strive for the one hundred mark. I will, however, post for fifteen days. So today I offer the first of 15 Things I Hate About Your Yard or Garden.


Shrubs That Are Sheared Inappropriately

Not all shrubs should be sheared. Shearing is appropriate for hedges and topiary, certainly. Shearing is also suitable for selected plants in formal gardens or for creating a few formal “bones” in an otherwise more natural garden.

For many plants, however, shearing turns them into weird blobs, green meatballs, coffee tables or worse. Forsythias are frequently sheared into giant yellow Q-tips, yews into large ottomans and sofas. And junipers? These are the most mal-pruned shrubs on the planet! Shearing removes those arching, feathery branches, which are the very thing that makes junipers attractive.

The beauty of most shrubs comes from allowing them to grow into their natural form. Pruning for most plants should be done to approve appearance, not to create sculpture. If a homeowner is unsure of how to prune a plant, don’t shear it for the purpose of “keeping it under control.” You aren’t controlling the plant, you’re making it less attractive.

A sheared Rose of Sharon becomes a green blob studded with a few flowers. Yuck.

In this garden the formal elements of the sheared boxwood hedge and Japanese holly balls contrast with a looser planting of perennials, roses and other shrubs. You have the sense that thought went into can tell that it was designed, not sheared because the gardener didn't know what else to do.

Don`t copy text!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This