Much of the garden is reaching maturity now, and this means that all our trees, shrubs, roses and climbers need proper care to be taken over their pruning so that they can give us their best flowers and thrive healthily. The roses are done, and most of the wall-grown climbers; this week we also pruned all the hydrangea paniculata heads that hadn't been picked last year from our fifty or so plants, trimming them back to a knuckly-looking framework about half a metre high. Weeded and thickly mulched, these vigorous plants will give us wonderful strong metre long stems bearing the puffy candyfloss flowers much loved by all our florist customers. We snip out all the weak, spindly, crossing or too low-growing stems, and the result is something like a miniature version of the attractively gnarly trees lining the winter streets of Paris.
This week we have also benefitted from the expert attentions of Simon "Jock" Smout to our elderly pear trees. Jock merrily climbs ladders and wields tools and works wonders with the neglected old trees, whichare on a three year renovation program. He has also successfully propagated a diseased old plum tree which we believe to have been original to the garden, so that we can grow a new tree from the old stock in a different part of the garden, and he has fearlessly tackled the pruning of our mightiest rambling rose, 'Ethel,' which now arches gracefully and airily from the top wall, ready to burst with soft shell-pink blossoms for picking in late June.