Posts Tagged ‘Pruning’

Rhody in Bloom 2 Window

Thirty years ago we planted a baby Rhododendron at our new home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.   It was a house warming gift from our friends, Terry and Barbara.  Barbie did all the work too and she has a magic touch in the garden because our Rhody grew and grew, and her saucer sized flowers stunned all visitors.

Note:  I did prune her once and as if in protest there were no flowers for several years.  

But she grew and grew and grew some more.

And this year she bloomed again foor the first time in a long time (see photo above)!

But Rhody was suddenly enormous!

She reached the roof of the house and spread out to cover two windows.

That was when Bill said, “She needs to be pruned.”  “No,” I cried, “She will not flower again for years.”  Then Bill left it to me, but the seeds of doubt were planted.

I literally lost sleep over the decision but finally got enough courage to begin to cut.  “Just a little here and there,” I thought.

I think I cut too much.

I am so sad and so sorry.

Do you think I killed Rhody?

Rhody Pruned


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Our Rhododendron is 26 years old.

When Bill and I first moved to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia the little “Rhodie” was a house warming gift from our friends, Terry and Barbara.  An avid gardener, Barbara actually planted it in a corner of the front yard.  “It will be protected there,” she said.

Barbie was right because the Rhododendron eventually grew and bloomed and surprised us with some amazing displays.  And then she burgeoned into a giant beauty, almost touching the eaves of the house and spreading wide and well beyond her expected corner boundaries.

“Time to cut things back,” I thought,  “Maybe with a trim she will thrive and be renewed.”  And though I really hated the idea, I clipped away to slim her down.

Rhodie’s big displays promptly stopped.

We were lucky to see one or two flowers in a season.

She must not have liked my pruning because season after season there were only one or two flowers on display.

She was on strike, so I decided to leave her alone – no more pruning, only watering and mulch.

Years later and Rhodie has grown to enormous proportions once again.  She is reaching for the eves and spreading beyond her rightful place, and she is big and fat and happy!  And just look at all the gorgeous flowers!  But is there such a thing as too big?

Rhodie Top Good one

Help!  So many of you,  my blogger friends, are extraordinary gardeners.

To prune or not to prune.  That is the question.

Rhodie Close Up

Rhodie 2


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Liriope in Bloom From Wikipedia

Liriope in Bloom
From Wikipedia

It was a warm sunny day here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  The wild birds were busy ignoring all the bargain seeds I sprinkled around to ward off avian starvation. The big snow is gone but the seeds are still here.  I checked.  “Ungrateful little critters,” I muttered.

My, what a wonderful day though, with the warm sun urging me to stay outdoors.  This is a first chance to think about springtime cleanup chores.  What needs doing?

  • ·         The voles or moles have been busy on our grassy lawn which is now full of holes.
  • ·         And things need trimming and hauling and raking and cutting.
  • ·         The old yellow jacket nest that a raccoon dug out of the ground is still a gaping hole and needs filling.
  • ·         Oh no, one of our Azaleas looks dead.
  • ·         Did I really forget to rake all those leaves by the back door?
  • ·         Maybe I should have stayed inside and enjoyed the sun through the windows.

But the real reason I went out in the first place was to work on our Liriope bed.

The February issue of Southern Living magazine insists I should be out now in February (which is almost over), “grooming” the Liriope.

Liriope is a grassy looking plant with long leaves, normally quite hardy and of course it would have to be quite hardy to survive our benign neglect.  The formal definition is:  One of several plants belonging to the genus Liriope, of the lily family, having tufted, grasslike leaves and clusters of small bluish or white flowers.


According to Southern Living February 2014: 

“Is your Liriope (monkey grass) looking ragged? 

Then use pruners, a string trimmer, or your lawn mower to cut it to

an inch tall now to make way for fresh foliage. 

Don’t wait. 

If you cut the tips of the new leaves,

they’ll keep their cut ends for the rest of the year.”


Oh no, a cut-ended border would not look good for the rest of the year!  Heeding the magazine’s sage advice and laden down with shears, garden gloves and a determination to be a better gardener, I approached our winter weary bed of Liriope.

At first I couldn’t find it.

Could I have forgotten where it was planted?

But thankfully, there it was and much to my dismay (or relief), the little plants were already groomed and pruned (looking a little sad and weedy) to an inch above the ground!

It has been a tough winter for the deer here too.  I heard that no acorns have fallen from the trees this year and so the deer are hungry.  The brutal cold and a heavy snow didn’t help much either so they made a salad of my Liriope!

Normally this might have been upsetting.  It’s hard enough to keep things thriving around here when the deer keep dining on anything with a green tinge.

For instance, there is a tall leafless evergreen bush near the front of our house.  It is barren of leaves except for the top part where the deer can no longer reach high enough to graze.  That poor old naked bush has a slightly shocked denuded look as if to say, “I’m cold!  Why the x&%#/* did you let this happen?”

But back to the Liriope, I am not angry at the little “dears” since they are so lovely and they really are hungry and in this case they have done my pruning for me.   When Spring has finally sprung and the new Liriope shoots come up with the desired pointy ended leaves I will rejoice for the care they received from our marauding deer.

Meanwhile I am stocking up on deer repellent.

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