Early-summer flowering shrubs are due their annual prunes about now. Treat Deutzia, Philadelphus and Wiegela the same way: cut out the old flowering shoots (they will look quite ragged with side shoots) and leave the straight shoots: these are the ones that will bloom next year. If it has been a good flowering year you might want to leave some of the old shoots for bulk!
Evergreen shrubs will want different treatment. Go lightly over Cistus and Ceanothus to neaten them up and encourage new, bushy growth. You should just be cutting into soft young growth and old flowers: they do not appreciate having their old woody growth hacked into!
Yes, it is another post about pruning! Although most perennials should be cut back almost to the ground - including soft-stemmed Salvias – the woody-stemed Salvias, such as Hot Lips, microphylla and Royal Bumble, are an exception.
When the first flush of flowers look tired get out the scissors (or secateurs if you have mature specimens) and cut back by about half. This is also a good opportunity to tidy up scruffy, straggly plants. New blooms should soon appear to provide colour till late autumn.
Another perennial that should only be cut back by half is Penstemon, an evergreen which comes in an array of colours.
Avoid the temptation to just snip off the old flowers of Leucanthemums (Shasta Daisies): you will not get any more blooms on the stem so you should cut it right back to base.
The same applies to the similar looking Tanacetums, Anthemis, and, later in the summer, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Rudbeckias and Heleniums.
Sometimes it pays to be ruthless - if you cannot see any more buds on your Lupins, chop them back to the base now and you should be rewarded with extra flowers later on, as well as attractive fresh foliage.
Other perennials which will benefit from the 'Hampton Hack' (as opposed to the 'Chelsea Chop') are Polemonium (Jacob's Ladder) and the soft herbaceous Salvias, such as Caradonna, East Friesland and May Night.
The shrubby, woody Salvias such as 'Hot Lips' are treated differently - more of that in a later post!
Gardening advice by Catherine McMillan
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