Barlow Nurseries

Growers of trees, shrubs and hardy herbaceous perennial garden plants near Newport, Shropshire

Do the Chelsea, do the Chelsea….

While most gardening priorities at this time of year involve bedding plants, hanging baskets, and setting out tender vegetables, it’s also important to spare a thought for the perennial plants that will be delivering colour and interest to our borders later in the season.

In recent years it’s become popular to use the annual beano that is the Chelsea Flower Show as an alliterative reminder that it’s time to take the secateurs to the taller (and potentially floppier) late season flowers in the herbaceous border, and do the Chelsea Chop!

Short back and sides, sir ?

Short back and sides, sir ?

Tracy DiSabato-Aust managed to stretch this to a whole book, but for those of you who are more inclined to garden than read, here’s the Barlow’s Digest version of the technique.

To do the “chop” you remove the topmost few inches of growth (yes, all the flower buds!) from plants such as Sedum, Rudbeckia, Helenium, and Heliopsis, so that they’ll re-shoot from lower down their stems, and make squatter, more robust (and self supporting!) plants.   It will delay flowering by a couple of weeks, but that sacrifice is more than compensated by the fact that the plants won’t fall over, will not need staking , and will actually have more flowers.

Our picture shows 2 Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ in our garden, one chopped, one not (but soon will be!).    If you’ve never done it before, it’s definitely a grit your teeth, cruel to be kind sort of moment;  but you’ll have forgotten all that angst by September, and you won’t be looking at your borders wishing you’d spent more time staking and tying!

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