No matter how much trimming and weeding, gardeners are willing to do it all, for having a beautiful garden.
Having many plant species means a lot of work
As all gardeners, I want to have as many plant species as possible in my small garden. Since I don't have much space, I planted only a few fruit trees, some bushes and a few perennials. For example, I have one cherry, one apricot and one apple tree, but lots of strawberry plants. Also, I have two fir trees, but several thujas. And I have lots of annuals, each reseeds every summer, blooming and then dying, making space for others to grow and bloom. I wanted to have blooms all summer long, so I planted species that bloom one after another. When one wilts, another one starts blooming and so on, until fall. They are planted garden wide, which means that I need to remove the dying ones, so the others can start growing. Which is why, during some cycles, my garden looks like a jungle!
Pruning back the perennials and removing dead annuals
I started my garden on virgin land and I planed what and where to plant, as much as I wanted to. As I'm not a botanist or a garden designer, I made mistakes by not considering how big a plant may grow. For example, the roses have now grown so big that they almost cover the whole garden. Well, I didn't believe they would all thrive...my bad! Some would say I have a green thumb and this shows in my garden, where almost all the plants that I plant thrive. Some are invasive and are taking over part of the flower beds, such as, mint, asters, mums, ditch lilies, irises. They suffocate, sometimes to annihilation, other species. Yet, I can control them by trimming and even by pulling them out. Every fall I trim back the roses to a few inches and even cut back to the ground some of the thickest stalks.
I planted a few irises along the fence and they have multiplied quite a bit, taking over that part of the garden. Every summer, after their blooms have wilted, I trim back all their leaves, so that the annuals that I had sown around them in the spring, can receive enough light. I do the same for the mums, that I have to trim back and thin, by digging some of them out. Maybe I will replant those in other spots or offer whole plants to friends, just to make more room for some annuals that I need to plant there.
I use every free spot in the garden, around the perennials. When I first planted the perennials, I left some free spots on purpose, for that very reason, but some of them have grown bigger or have spread more than expected. That's why is very important to trim back every perennial after they finish blooming. The plants start growing again, after trimming. I even pull some of them out, when they have spread too much by reseeding, such as the daisies and the columbines. Pulling out is also a good method for controlling the mint and the asters.
Pruning the bushes and trees
Work never ends in the garden, especially when you have trees and shrubs. Mine have grown quite a bit in the last few years. The shrubs grow more during summer, so that, at some point, I need to trim them back. When I first planted them, I didn't know they need pruning. I didn't know much, to be honest! But year after year, they grew bigger and bigger, so I started to learn how to trim them back. The fruit trees are the most difficult to prune because they need a special technique, to make them produce many fruits and to have a nice crown.
Fortunately, they need pruning only once a year. This is not the same thing with the shrubs. I can't let them grow too much, if I want my garden to look tidy and nice. I don't have many shrubs, just a few and they aren't too big, but I have a very tall thuja living fence, which is my pride. However, it is my curse, so to speak - because I can't trim much of it without climbing a ladder. I always like to trim them in a straight line, on both sides, but unfortunately, I can't keep that line all year long. That's why my garden sometimes looks like a jungle!
Be aware of insects when trimming the trees and shrubs
All of this advice comes from my experience, that's why I want to give you a last tip, which may save your life. You might not know this, but the wasps or other insects might build a nest on the upper branches of the trees or they may just rest in there, between the leaves. And they might not like it if you shake that tree, because they don't know what to expect and might think they are in danger. And what does a wasp do when she is in danger? Yes, the right answer is she stings and stings bad! I felt it on my skin when I trimmed back a lilac which grew too large and was covering a climbing rose bush. I got stung by three wasps in a second and only my instincts saved me from a disaster. I got away with only three stings because I got down and covered my face, but only after I felt the three stings. I never thought were real stings. It didn't hurt at first and I thought the wasp had just touched me. Yeah, right, am I a fool or what? I didn't go inside right away, but only after I finished pruning the lilac. That's when I saw the three stings on my face, which in the meantime, had swollen. Lucky I'm not allergic to insect venom or I could have died of anaphylactic shock! But I am cautious and keep some allergy pills and a special ointment for insect stings in my medical kit. Since I live in the countryside, a situation like this may occur when I least expect it. Once, when I was picking cherries from an upper branch, I saw a few very ripe cherries at the very end. A wasp saw them too and was just snacking on one when I thought I'd interrupt her and take the cherry from under her nose, so to speak. Of course, she felt disturbed and acted accordingly, by stinging my finger. I can now say it with humor, but back then it really hurt me - to leave that cherry to the wasp! No kidding, you must pay attention to the insects, but also, don't neglect your garden chores or you will have a jungle to master.