Andy Wain pruning wisteria

Shrub and tree pruning is an important task as it promotes strong growth and stops diseases taking over. However, one of the most common questions surrounding pruning is ‘when do you prune trees and shrubs in your garden?’. STIHL ambassador and Head Gardener Andy Wain has been telling us all about his winter pruning tasks he has recently ticked off his to-do list. Find out what to prune in winter and also his top pruning tips in his latest blog…

“One thing lots of people say to me every year is “You must have loads of free time in the winter when things are quiet in the garden”.

That certainly isn’t the case at Euridge Manor where I have five acres of formal gardens to look after. There really isn’t any quiet time in the gardens – it’s more a case of BIG project time in the gardens!

Pruning wisteria is one of the tasks that need to be tackled in the winter. Here are a few quick tips for keeping your wisteria in check:

  1. Pruning wisteria with secateursTry and get your winter wisteria prune completed by the end of February / beginning of March. During winter while there are no leaves on the plant, you can see the structure of it much more clearly and it’s a great time to give it a health check. Check for any dead or damaged wood, and remove it.
  2. This is also a great time to check that the plant is not growing into or twisted around any gutters, downpipes or cables that are on your property. Wisteria growing behind such things is very bad – over time, as the plant grows, it will force them off the wall. So, make sure you catch this and deal with it early.
  3. While you can see the skeleton of the plant it is the perfect time to check the shape is what you are looking for. Tie in any growth that you want to train, and remove any growth that does not fit the shape you want. One of the best ways to train wisteria is out laterally, similar to an espalier fruit tree, with about a foot between each layer. This encourages lots of flowering buds along that lateral stem and shows off the flowers beautifully as they hang down like bunches of grapes.
  4. Speaking of flowering, prune your wisteria back to 2-3 buds. This will focus the plant’s energy into producing those BOOTIFUL flowers.

Another one of our big winter projects this year was to take a look at the area below the tennis court. We have some Quercus Ilex that had outgrown the space, and a Fagus Sylvatica hedge that we felt needed a bit of a change.

Pruning with the STIHL HSA 85 cordless pole prunerSo we decided on some quite drastic pollarding of the Quercus, removing a large amount of material using our trusty HTA 85 cordless pole pruner. As drastic and harsh as this may look, these trees are tough as old boots and will be pushing out new growth in no time at all. We will then maintain this new growth as a pleached hedge, which just means that we will weave and tie in the young shoots to create more of a structured hedge or ‘living fence’.

As for the Fagus hedge, I wanted to have a bit of fun with this one! It was previously just a tall slab of hedge, so we set to some quite harsh pruning using our battery-powered MSA 220 chainsaw. My aim was to create some constant flowing waves in the hedge, giving it character and making it more of a feature. These waves also give you little glimpses of the view beyond as you walk down the path. All of the material we have removed has been chipped or processed for firewood too. Nothing goes to waste.

So, as you can see, pruning is a key part of our work in winter for a few important reasons:

  • Firstly, the plants are not growing as much or are dormant, so it makes the whole process less stressful on the plant.
  • Secondly, we do not want to disturb any nesting birds.
  • And finally, we simply don’t have the time in the summer when there are plenty of other jobs we need to be getting on with! But I’ll tell you all about those later in the year.

I hope you all enjoyed this first little look at the work we do here in the gardens at Euridge Manor. I can’t wait to show you what we get up to next!

And WainAndy Wain
Andy, aka the Fully Charged Gardener, is the newest addition to the STIHL ambassador line-up and an active gardener on social media. He is the Head Gardener at Euridge Manor, and is responsible for maintaining 5 acres of formal gardens there. He likes to be as creative as he can with his lawn stripes and topiary hedge sculptures!