Six on Saturday: Aspects of gardening

A glorious week in late September set me off puzzling on the layout of the garden. There’s not much I can do about it now, unless the premium bond ticket comes up big time, but I was struck by how the sunniest spot in the garden is occupied by the garden shed. The border that leads away from the shed is the thin border, less than a metre in depth and the long borders at this time of year are shaded by the fig tree. The problem is the garden is south east facing and is laid out as if it were south facing. Maybe there is some tweaking that can be done but I mustn’t get distracted from the immediate task of thinning the garden of self seeders and digging out some poor performers. Here’s the six things that had my attention this week.

One

The fig tree has been winter pruned for the last two years. Only belatedly did I realise that summer pruning the new growth back after five leaves is also recommended. I haven’t summer pruned because I was wary of the sticky sap the leaks from the stems. As a consequence I now have an enormous tree that needs taking in hand. The non-gardener votes for taking the whole tree down. I am having one last go at containing the monster I have created but given the impact it has on the flower borders, balanced with the quantity of fruit we manage to harvest I think I am at the start of a slippery slope.

Two

This is the last apple tree still bearing fruit and I think I am growing the smallest Braeburns ever. They have just started to drop a few windfalls which are miniature sized but very tasty. We will start picking a few next week.

Three

Having spent a massive amount of time digging out and dividing a poorly flowering agapanthus, I planted a clematis. It is ‘Madame Julia Correvon’, one that has been on the wish list for some time and when I came across it at a local garden centre I could not resist. It looks a bit mildewy already!

Four

I am ruthlessly pulling out the self-seeding astrantias, in particular astrantia major. I am trying hard not to pull out ‘Roma’ but it’s pot luck really. Here’s a. major in flower and for the moment staying in place.

Five

The battle against the slugs continues and delving around in the borders revealed a multitude of them. Far too fat to squish and I’m too squeamish to resort to the secateurs. They go into the green bin where they can feast themselves silly before being transporting to a nice hot compost heap far away from here. This year I am trying out the Strulch mulch, mineralised wheat straw, which apparently lasts in the borders for two years and deters slugs and snails. I love that word: deters. I wonder if my slugs and snails will be deterred from munching through the garden?

Six

Call me a liar. I did swear that I would not grow dahlias anymore because I didn’t really like them and of course they are a magnet for the slugs. But here I am tying a bit of twine around this dahlia in the cutting patch because I like the burnt orange colour and it might just possibly do well in a newly strulched border. Time will tell.

The Propagator invites us all to post each week and hosts all the links. Happy to oblige and happy to share in all the gardening news from around the world.

18 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Aspects of gardening

  1. The fig is huge but beautiful and healthy! I hope judicious pruning can tame it. I also love the colour of your Dahlia and at this time of year they are so valuable, they just keep flowering, can’t help but love them, surely? 😉

    It’s interesting to watch where the sun falls in the garden, I sense a shed move might be on the horizon?

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  2. I can relate to your pruning challenges. I, too, have a problematic fig tree that has received winter pruning for 2 years but continues to be wayward and less than ideally productive in the summers. The astrantia is a lovely blush pink shade. I’ll have to look into acquiring one of those. This is the first I’ve heard of strulch. I look forward to hearing how it performs – both as mulch and deterrent.

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  3. I do sometimes think that a fig tree would be a good idea, but so far I’ve resisted. The leaves are so dramatic. From your photo it does look like it takes up more than its fair share of space.
    I bought some strulch for the first time in the Spring, but I can’t vouch for its slug replant properties as I didn’t use it round plants where slugs were a problem.

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  4. This fig tree is very pretty, the shape is superb! I have never pruned mine after the 5th leaf and I have had figs for years (except this year which is really miserable). I will have fruits in November at this rate and the cold of the winter that will arrive will stop their ripening

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  5. This summer pruning fad is complicating matters. The primary fig at my former home was a common ‘Mission’ fig, which produces well with both crops. If I pruned it minimally, it produced more early figs. If I pruned it aggressively, it produced more late figs. Fortunately, it did not grow too vigorously for where it was located. Otherwise, I would have been compelled to prune it very aggressively annually. Other cultivars of fig produce better early figs, so should be pruned mildly. Others that produce better late figs should be pruned more aggressively. The pruning style is determined by the type of fruit that is prioritized. Trees that get too big for their situation can be pruned back severely, and then pruned accordingly afterward, without summer pruning. Some of the white figs get pruned back very aggressively, just because they grow like weeds. I do no summer pruning. I do it all in winter.

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    • Ours seem to give the best fruit in the early crop, certainly bigger then. I’m hoping a severe winter prune will bring it back in control. I only came across the summer prune idea this year so glad to hear that there is the potential to ignore it!

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      • Oh! So if yours produces best early, then it should be pruned minimally?! It would be easier if it produces better late, and could be cut back aggressively. Of course, you can cut it back aggressively to get it under control, but will eventually need to repeat the process in a few years. Is it a white fig? They tend to grow more vigorously than black figs. Summer pruning certainly can be practical, and can work well for maximizing production, particularly in confined spaces. I just dislike it very much. I prefer to give trees the space they need, and prune them accordingly where space is limited, but to do all the pruning in winter, just as I learned in the Santa Clara Valley a long time ago. When I lived in town, I pruned my primary fig tree up and over a parking space, even though I knew that it really should be down where I could reach the fruit. The pruning was the same as I learned, but modified for a suburban situation. Summer pruning is very effective for even more compact situations, with trees that otherwise get very large. I just can not bring myself to accept it.

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