Summer pruning tips

Round & About


At last the weather is being kinder and we feel like getting out into our gardens. The CGS pruning courses are in full swing and many students are volunteering their gardens for a summer prune!

Rambling roses

Some roses flower once, spectacularly, in early summer. American Pillar, Rambling Rector, Wedding Day, Banksia and many others are a delight when scrambling through trees, over pergolas and even over arches and along ropes. Unlike other roses these are pruned after flowering to remove flowered branches and tie in new ones. They really are not for the faint hearted and many mistakes have been made. They are happiest rambling through a large tree or hedgerow where they can be left without pruning like our native dogrose.

Fruit trees

Trained apples and pears are summer pruned by reducing the long growths to a couple of buds encouraging fruit spurs. This helps keep them tidy and reduces growth as well as allowing light and air into developing fruit. Best done in August/September otherwise you may be doing it twice! Plums, Cherries, Almonds, Apricots and all stone fruit should always be pruned in summer and never in winter due to disease risk. It’s easy to remember just prune when picking!

Spring flowering shrubs

These include Weigela, Forsythia, Chaenomeles, Philadelphus, Deutzia, Syringa and Kolwitzia. I see many of these trimmed with hedgecutters and clients wonder why they have never flowered. This is because they flower on two year old wood so if trimmed every year you are cutting off next year’s flowers. I prune ornamental quince (Chaenomeles) constantly in Summer so you can see the flowers and developing edible fruit. It fruit on older wood and you can clearly see where it flowers if you look carefully. If any of these shrubs have become overgrown and need cutting right back you can start the pruning regime again after the second year.


This needs it’s own heading!

Anyone who owns one will know how mad it can grow in the summer. Cut off the long whippy shoots to a shorter one ready for the February prune. Don’t start too early after flowering or you will be repeating it several times! Leave until September if you can but sometimes it does need an untangle from tiles, drainpipes, sky dishes as well as preventing it actually growing into windows!


Hedges, topiary and large evergreen shrubs can be pruned all Summer to encourage new growth and regeneration. Laurel hedges should be done with secateurs to avoid leaf shredding. New hedges should be left until they reach the desired height before pruning the tops but do a formative prune to encourage side shoots.

CGS Courses

Please ask for details as I am running pruning courses throughout spring and autumn. Each plant has a different requirement and learning about pruning techniques is addictive! I can also come and teach you in your own garden.

Consultancy gift vouchers available too.

Website: Cathie’s Gardening School: Surrey’s Garden School

Email: [email protected]

To prune or not to prune?

Round & About


Cathie Welch of Cathie’s Gardening School turns her attention to one of the most pressing issues for gardeners this month – the pruning dilemma

With the extremes of temperature and subsequent plant damage I have attended many garden consultancies and answered numerous questions from my students and clients. All the questions and concerns have been exactly the same; do I prune now or leave well alone? This question is one that has stumped all of us experts as these climate extremes have never happened before.

Dead or alive?

Even though plants have suffered terribly some will have died and others will have just become defoliated or gone brown. The important bit is under the bark on the stems (the cambium layer where the cells divide). Using your nail or the blade of secateurs scrape away a little of the bark. It should be bright green. If it’s brown it’s dead. This all depends on the type of plant of course and it’s never that easy!

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Pruning v chopping!

Round & About


I thought I would take a light hearted look at the subject of pruning or as many people call it ‘chopping’ ‘hacking’ or ‘trimming’.


As a horticultural tutor and consultant the one thing I see in gardens that makes my heart sink is badly pruned trees and shrubs.

I feel it is my duty as a professional to teach people the correct way to prune in order to get the best from their garden. It takes years for a plant to grow and five minutes to destroy it……


Anyone can do this, especially with a machine and at any time of year.

Fine for weeds, unwanted plants and dead ones.

You don’t need to be trained or qualified if you don’t want to be.

Can kill or seriously damage established plants, preventing growth, flowering and fruiting.

Looks horrible.


The skill of pruning takes a lifetime of knowledge and practise. Plants need to be pruned correctly at the right time of year.

Every garden plant not only has a proper name but also a lifecycle and very specific pruning requirements.

You need a good level of training, qualifications and experience to undertake it successfully.

A good knowledge of pruning can ensure your plants thrive for a long time, flower, produce fruit and be beautiful sight. A well pruned Wisteria can look amazing in winter as well as in flower.

Want to learn?

Cathie’s Gardening School Services

A personalised and unique professional service tailored to your gardening requirements.

1. Horticultural consultancy teaching you in your own garden. This includes identifying your plants and how to prune them correctly at the right time of year to help you work out a maintenance programme.

2. Cathie’s Garden Army team of horticulturists can transform your garden, often in a day, following a consultancy. You may prefer us to do the hard work for you and pruning according to season.

3. Maintenance by team members once the garden is maintainable depending on our availability.

[email protected]

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