BOULDER – Suddenly our walkways have disappeared from view. A little trimming this spring seemed to be doing the trick but now that the heat is on the shrubs are starting to hang over in inconvenient places.
The most important thing to remember is to not overdue the tip clipping. Tip clipping is when a branch gets cut halfway down instead of to the base. Most shrubs like lilacs, dogwoods, currants and forsythia need to have a third of the old growth cut down to the base every year. Cutting a branch back to the base of the shrub stimulates new growth to emerge. If a branch is only cut halfway down it stimulates new shoots to come out of the top of the cut causing a branch or tree limb to become top heavy and prone to breakage or flopping. This is can actually lead to the demise of some shrubs as the growth on the top causes the base of the shrub to become to shaded and the shrub starts to die off from lack of sunlight.
Every job I went to this week had a major sprinkler blow out in an obscure section of the yard. These seemed to be large breakages whether they had been leaking, spritzing or a late night Vegas fountain as they were in seldom traveled areas. So walk your perimeters, look under shrubs and around fence lines for any signs of a blowout. This is costing you money and efficiency so it is a worthwhile hour to check over the entire sprinkler system. My crew cuts down iris and oriental poppy foliage to the ground at all of our jobs to unblock sprinklers for the rest of the summer by plants that are not going to bloom again. Watch for shrubs that are hanging over the path of sprinklers in a flower bed. It is worth it to check all the beds before the sprinklers are running and while they are running to see if there are any major plant blockages or breaks.
Running your sprinkler in the middle of the day or middle of the night can lead to a different set of issues. If you run your sprinklers in the middle of a hot sunny day the water sitting on foliage can cause the leaves to brown as the water magnifies the sun. Running sprinklers in the middle of the night leaves water sitting to long on foliage and can create powdery mildew. It is best to run sprinklers early in the morning so the water evaporates or soaks in before the sun gets to hot yet does not sit to long on foliage to create powdery mildew.
The valerian and salvias are starting to peter out on the flowering if you have not been on top your deadheading. Before you get into deadheading it may be a timesaver to trim some of the stalks down to the base of the plant. This will stimulate new growth and perhaps uncover another flower next door that will come up later in the summer and is struggling with the overgrowth of its spring neighbor. Valerian and salvia both fall into the tripod category of deadheading. There is a center bloom with two new shoots on the side so take the center out and let the side shoots flower. Sometimes a lower set of side shoots look better than the first set so don’t be afraid to skip down to the more promising set. Salvia benefits from having half of the plant cut down to the base. Then deadhead the other half so it will continue to flower while the half you cut back to the ground will start to come back with new growth. When the new growth looks healthy cut the other half that had been flowering (and probably looks pretty tired at this point) to the ground. The salvia will quickly start to grow from the energy of the half you had previously cut down. Salvia regenerates fairly quickly and can flower continually into the fall with a little extra care.
Spin your flower pots and hanging pots on a regular basis to get equal shares of sunlight on all sides. Sometime the back sides of a flower pot can start to die out but if you spin your pots every two weeks or so that will ensure a full bloom on all aspects. Occasionally we have to switch flower pots from one side of the patio or front door to another especially if they are supposed to match but the sunlight isn’t the same on each side. A few minutes spent moving your flower pots around or hanging them so the other side faces the sun can make a big difference.
My new favorite shade plant is Trollius chinensis called golden queen globeflower. Globeflower gets 24 to 30 inches tall in the shade and provides a burst of deep gold starting about a month ago and continuing in July. I’m not sure how long this flower will bloom for yet as we are still experimenting with deadheading. But so far it has bloomed long enough with a difficult color to find for the shade so purchase a few and enjoy.
Susan McCausland grew up on a small sheep farm in rural New Hampshire. She moved to Colorado in 1989 to pursue creative writing at the University of Colorado, Boulder but discovered that she enjoyed her landscaping job more than the classroom. She has owned and operated a small garden maintenance company, Beyond Gardens, for15 years in Boulder County.Back to Top