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Garden Reports and Rejoicing – August 6

In early July I noticed that the verbena, lantana and alyssum that I’d planted in May seemed stalled. They’d put out some initial growth and flowers after planting, but despite the fertilizer and weekly watering, they were sitting with the remainders of old flowers and not much else. I got out my Black and Decker Shrubber and sheared the tops off of these plants. Three weeks later they have filled out and continue to bloom and grow.

I’ve sheared other plants mid-season with the purpose of stimulating growth. Pink flowering Spirea, Saint John’s Wort, Gaura, Prunella, Verbena bonariensis and other plants respond to a mid-summer haircut with increased volume and flowering. Even if new flowers aren’t the goal, ticker growth and a tidier appearance is usually the outcome. I should have sheared the old Hidcote lavender flowers last week, but it’s in my sights for the near future.

This mid-summer cleanup reminds me that in other areas of life it’s easy to get stuck in old patterns and get stalled. In the garden and elsewhere, sometimes in order to produce new growth we need to take something away.

The contorted filbert (Corylus avellana 'Red Majestic') is filling this bed at the end of the drive but there is still room for annuals. Now these plants are blooming well but initially they needed to be jumpstarted by an "inch off the top" shearing.


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