Sunday, 12 February 2017

Too Harsh?

The weather has been dull and cold over the last few days. So far the snow showers that were forecast haven't arrived but having said that it hasn't rained much at all. It's been drizzly with a little bit of sleety stuff mixed in at times. A little bit of brightness wouldn't go amiss after what seems to have been a week of cold and gloomy days.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 10-12 February 2017
The wind chill effect has made it feel especially cold. We certainly haven't considered visiting the allotment, choosing to wait for an improvement in the weather.

I saw an article in the gardening press this week about not pruning too harshly. Like all good articles it comes a little bit too late but I'm not sure that I would do anything differently having read the story. On the plot in the perennial bed that we are currently refurbishing we have two Sambucus nigra  "Black Lace" bushes or more commonly called black elder. Through summer these two bushes put on a brilliant display with their colourful foliage, pink flowers and finally trusses of elder berries.
Sambucus nigra  "Black Lace"
They get lots of comments about how impressive they look through the summer and a few shoots have been nipped off for other plotters to have a go at raising their own plants. However there comes a time when they get too big and somewhat out of control. Their sheer size means they cast too much shade onto the adjacent beds resulting in poor performing crops. Every year they get a light prune but they quickly grow back seemingly even bigger unless I take some drastic action every few years.
In the winter months they don't look too bad and it's difficult to image just how much shade they cast. As we are refurbishing their bed I decided this year would be as good a time as any to give them a severe pruning. First of all the straightish stems were cut out and will be used as pea sticks.
Then they were cut back almost to ground level.
Needless to say I'm not expecting them to flower this year. It will take them a year or so to recover but I'm sure that they will. In the meantime they won't be casting too much shade over the adjacent vegetable crops. There won't be any elderflower cordial from them this year but we do have a couple of wild elder bushes on the plot that will no doubt produce flowers and fruit.
The remaining sturdier stems were cut up and will be added to a bonfire to produce some wood ash once they have dried out. Below is a short video that we made when cutting back  our Sambucus nigra.

1 comment:

  1. The pink flowers do really look so gorgeous!
    Hope they bounce back to fullness and provide a lot of berries next year!
    The video look so cool!


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