Aren’t these shrubs beautiful?
Many different types of flowering, desert shrubs have beautiful, natural shapes that add interest and texture to your garden. Especially when in flower, their beauty is truly breathtaking.
Sadly, there is an epidemic that is sweeping surburbia……
No, it is not a plant disease, it is actually an epidemic of overly pruned, flowering shrubs.
Drive through almost any neighborhood, and you will see a multitude of flowering shrubs that have been pruned into many different shapes. Cupcakes, poodle-like balls, pill-box and even frisbee-shaped shrubs can be seen. In the plant industry, we sometimes refer to this practice as ‘poodle pruning’.
Last spring, I took a drive through the neighborhoods surrounding my house and saw the following examples of ‘creative’ pruning after just 5 minutes of driving.
You know what? I think that many landscapers and even homeowners maybe see themselves as ‘sculptors’ when they approach their shrubs with hedge trimmers.
Besides removing flower buds, repeated shearing blocks sunlight from reaching the middle of shrubs, which can cause the interior branches to die. Look closely at the top of the cupcake-shaped shrubs (below). Can you see the dead area in the middle? That is a classic example of the damage repeated shearing creates.
Now, there is nothing wrong with formally pruning shrubs, as long as they are not flowering shrubs. If you like formally pruned shrubs, try adding Japanese Boxwood or Dwarf Myrtle to your garden and haul out your hedge trimmers and indulge your ‘inner sculptor’ and create all the shapes you like.
But, if you have flowering shrubs, keep your hedge trimmers away – better yet, get rid of them. You should only use loppers and hand pruners.
So, do any of your shrubs resemble any of these pruning disasters? If so, don’t panic! I will cover the correct way to prune flowering shrubs in a future post and you will soon be the envy of your neighborhood as your flowering shrubs are transformed from green ‘cupcakes’ into flowering beauties.
Have you seen any examples of creative pruning in your neighborhood?
I would love to hear about them!