Rockvale Stone & Garden

Frosts again here on the coast last week – as it should be at the end of June – which also means sun, blue skies and gardening after the thaw.
At long last we have come to the end of leaves and while trees rest for a couple of months, there is plenty going on beneath them. Bulbs are pushing through with early Snowdrops almost in flower. Shrubs are budding up – along with Hellebores, Ericas, Wallflower and all the Pollys and Primulas planted last month – it’s time once again to notice all the special little things happening in our gardens.
Tidying up and dividing Perennials is what I am up to – along with pruning the large climbing and old fashioned Roses. Some ramblers have become so entangled I need to use a hedge trimmer to reduce the height and width.
Make early plantings of Gladioli for November flowering and Sweet Pea planted now will flower in early Spring.
Clean up dead leaves under Rose bushes to prevent the spread of pest and disease. I have done a lime sulphur spray, which needs to be left a few weeks before pruning. After pruning Champion Copper and Conqueror Oil spray to eliminate powdery mildew, lichen and moss.
Wisterias have lost all their leaves. Prune off all long and unruly canes. If you don’t, they will entwine themselves around established branches and keep growing thicker.
New seasons trees available locally: Prunus, Flowering Cherries and Malus. Crab Apples are ballerinas in the garden, but when choosing, the important factors are height and width when fully grown. Some grow vase shaped which allows garden beneath – others spread branches wide and down and weeping which spill to the ground from the top. All are grafted onto standard 1.2m, 1,5m, 1.8m root stock which allows height when first planted. Very few are suitable for small gardens.
Yedoensis -med/large,spreading mass of mid season single white or pale pink blossom, Shirotae (Mount Fuji) large spreading, early season double white blossom. Shimidsu sakura late season, low spreading double pale pink blossom. Pink perfection med/large, upright spreading, mid season double pink blossom. Autumnalis rosea: smaller branched pale pink small blossom 3 times a year, flowering now. Weeping varieties: Falling snow, white blossom, Pendula rosa pink blossom and Kiku shidare double pink blossom. They start at a manageable size, but within 5 years they become a sizable tree.
On the coast Sow Broad Beans, Garlic, Shallots and Rhubarb. Colder areas nothing much can be planted.
This week I will go through the pruning required for Pear trees. It is not recommended to heavily prune Pear trees – but if this is required, the best time is during Winter. The more you prune, the greater the chance that fire blight will develop where leaves and branches look as if they have been burned by fire – this delays fruit production. If a light trim is required, this is best done late in the Summer. If living in an area where there’s a chance of Winter damage, wait to prune until late Winter. Pear trees bloom and bear fruit on the sharp, short spurs that grow between its branches. Older spurs should be removed occasionally, to be replaced by more vigorous young ones. Too many spurs will result in small fruit – thin them out to let the remaining fruit grow larger. Envision how you want your Pear trees to look and set a three-year plan to get them into that shape and size.
1st year: remove damaged, crossing or crowded limbs. Suckers need to be removed as soon as you notice them, to avoid them turning into wood, 2nd year: Thin out the tree some more and bring down some of the height, 3rd year: Thin out the trees some more and cut down to the desired height. (Burn all trimmings) There are many new varieties of both Pear and Apple trees that have been cultivated to be very resistant to Fire blight – this is one disease that can severely damage and, or kill your fruit trees. The leaves and twigs of the trees get the disease from insects who enter the flowers during Springtime – insects get it by gathering pollen from nearby Cedar trees. Choose a resistant variety and keep trees moist – especially during blossom time and when fruit is ripening. If your tree has already been hit by fire blight, you will need to prune out the affected shoots at least several inches below the damaged area. Be sure to sterilize your clippers between cuts and burn cuttings. .
Cheers, Linda.

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