Late winter pruning jobs

vinesverticalLast month I downed tools rather fast and flew out to Australia; leaving behind urgent garden chores.

Luckily I am blessed with very caring friends – Nicolas stepped in and assured me he would do the two urgent jobs that no one can put off until spring.

Can you guess?  Pruning the grape vines. And hard pruning the mulberry in the courtyard.

Anyone who has pruned a grape vine a little late – when the sap is rising in spring – will know what a disaster it is. The plant bleeds and bleeds sap from the cut.   It is a rather alarming discovery. The sap seems to gush out.  So you need to attack when the vines are still dormant.

I didn’t really see the extent of Nicolas’ pruning work straight away. A blanket of snow covering most of your garden will distract you from the details. mulberyverypruned

But now that I can see the pile of debris ready for the chipper piled up in the courtyard it’s breathtaking.

And alarming. Talk about a short back and sides.  It’s fun to compare one’s work to the professionals. Eech year I diligently cut back these vines. Taking out the season’s growth. It’s not hard to spot where to cut. The new growth is whippy and the old is gnarly.

But I have obviously not been brave enough.  There are entire limbs stacked up in the pile.  And the view from the courtyard table is going to be a whole lot clearer this summer. Huge swathes of old vine are now cut back.

mulberry1It’s the same for the mulberry. A deeply satisfying pruning job if ever there was one. It’s so simple, if a bit athletic climbing up the tree.

Nicolas has obviously noticed that some of the ends of the trunks were a bit knobbly.  He has cut back quite a bit of the worst of the wood. (Oh, and the infestations of wooly aphids I have successfully been ignoring for years has been cut out too.)

All I need to do to complete this major overhaul of my poorly pruned plants is to haul all the remnants down to the stables where I can chip them and then turn them into garden mulch.  The lavender plants in the newly created garden bed (another Nicolas number) need protecting from future weeds.

It usually only takes me a few wheelbarrow loads to take down the vine and mulberry cuttings. But this year I might change my plans and haul the chipper up to the courtyard. It will certainly be quicker to try and reduce this mighty pile to mulch rather than spend half a day dragging sticks.  Warming and energetic work it may be. But I’m way too busy for such fastidious work at this time of year.