Prune box hedging and topiary
The week around Derby Day is traditionally the time to prune box hedging. In the next week or so gardeners all around the country will be getting the shears and secateurs out in anticipation.
Hedge trimming might seem a mundane job but there is an undeniable feeling of satisfaction when the ‘fluffy’ edges have been turned into slick right angles. And if you’re trimming topiary there’s the chance to make the shapes more lifelike. It’s a very creative way to spend a sunny afternoon and the perfect time to redefine a scruffy bunny’s ears or sculpt a peacock’s tail!
Choose a warm dry day to prune box hedging (buxus); with box blight prevalent (a fungal disease spread by rain splash) it’s a wise precaution against disease; and it’s also a more pleasant task if the day is dry.
If you have a large expanse of box hedging to prune, place a garden sheet or some heavy duty black plastic bags under the hedge to collect the clippings. This makes tidying up and disposing of the debris much easier and more efficient; it’s also a good method for small topiary items in pots. Just stand the pot on the sheet to collect any clippings.
On straight hedges it is usually simple to cut by eye, but if the hedge is very shaggy you can make a simple cutting guide for the top and sides of the hedge. Use bamboo canes either end of the hedge with a length of garden string attached to run the length of the hedge. Adjust this string line to the right height and cut to this line.
Cut the front face of the hedge in the same way taking off any branches that emerge at right angles and spoil the straight edge.
Once you start it will be easier to see what needs to go- don’t be daunted by the task; even if you think you’ve made a mistake and cut too much off, box will regrow!
On topiary, cut with secateurs or small shears or snips, take off a little at a time and keep walking around the topiary to check that the shape is being maintained. Again it’s not a disaster if you cut a little too much, that’s the beauty of a living sculpture!