Give a Gal Some Pruners and Stand Back

It’s that time of year, in my zone 6b-7 garden, when some of my plants need cutting back.  The general rule is when the forsythia are blooming, it’s time to grab those pruners and loppers and get to work.  Well, the forsythia are blooming, so it’s time to get pruning.

The first participants of the pruning game are my roses. I only have two varieties and both are climbers. Climbing roses don’t have to be pruned,  but doing so helps keep them at a manageable height, removes old canes and promotes new growth.

One of the roses is an old variety call ‘New Dawn’.

courtesy of Wayside Gardens

courtesy of Wayside Gardens

‘New Dawn’ was first introduced around the 1930’s. It is a very disease resistant, very hardy, and a VERY thorny rose and does great in the heat and humidity of Arkansas. The roses are light pink and slightly fragrant. I planted several along my steel pipe fence that borders our driveway and county road. It’s best for this rose to have strong support and the first year it grew about six to eight feet. I decided to leave it alone and, after several years, it looked wild and out of control. Some canes had gotten at least fifteen feet long and stretched well into the field.   So, I cut them back. I wish I could tell you I carefully looked at every cane, visualizing its place and purpose on the plant, but I got caught up in the moment and once I started cutting, not one cane was spared. I was in such a pruning frenzy, I didn’t get any before and after shots.  Sorry.

I pulled myself together and headed toward the ‘Zephrin Drouhin’. This rose is well behaved, no thorns, no disease or bug problems, smells heavenly and is my friend. I have this rose in a bed that gets afternoon shade and it rewards me with an unbelievable show of beauty around Mother’s Day.

zephrin drouhin

This will become….



The next group of plants I tackle are the hydrangea’s.  Now, before you run out and cut back your hydrangea’s you need to know what species you have.  Mine is Hydrangea  arborescens and blooms on new wood or new stems so cutting back now will not affect the blooming season.  Some bloom on old wood meaning the stems that have been on the plant since the last year (the common pink and blue varieties) will be the ones to bloom.  If you cut these back now, you will not have any blooms for the season.   And that’s just wrong.   So, moral of the story, know your hydrangea.


From this..


to this…

to this!

to this!

Next are the grasses.   Now is a good time to trim these back to about six to eight inches.  This does not have to be done, but I don’t like to look at the dried grass mixed with the foliage of this dwarf zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

zebra grass

from this…

zebra grass

to this…

to this.
(courtesy of Dave’s Garden)

One thing I do NOT prune back are my Crepe Myrtles.   I love their natural shape and they bloom their ever-lovin’ heart out in the worst part of our summer.  My crepes are a smaller variety, about 10 feet, with pinkish-red blooms.  They bloom the entire month of August when all I want to do is stay in where it’s cool.


So, I  don’t understand why people love to cut these shrubs  back to almost nothing.  Do these people do this to all of their trees?  No, that would look silly. Then why pick on the poor Crepe Myrtle?

Around these parts, this horrific pruning method is called Crepe Murder.  What I am about to show you is graphic.  For those with weak stomachs, prepare yourself.  For those with small children in your lap, parental discretion is advised.

from internet

Crepe Murder from undisclosed location

For more on Crepe Murder’s and exposing those that commit this heinous crime, check out The Grumpy Gardener’s article at

Remember to prune responsibly.


About the blonde gardener

I'm an Arkansas girl born and raised. I garden in the beautiful Northwest part of the state (zone 6b or 7) surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. My favorite part about the area is we have 4 distinct seasons and are able to enjoy a variety of activities. My main passion is gardening but I also enjoy hiking, birding, 4-wheeling and motorcycle trips. Basically anything outside. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda
This entry was posted in Arkansas blogger, Garden, Pruning and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Give a Gal Some Pruners and Stand Back

  1. Speaking for myself, I find pruning very satisfying. I like to think of it as creative destruction!


  2. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Wow! You go gardener! Note to self – don’t stand still in Brenda’s garden for too long or you may get pruned. I’ve also been starting the spring clean up/ pruning ritual. It feels good to be outside again.


  3. I have Rosa ‘New Dawn’ also. It is a good climber, I have to prun it 3 times a year, very good performer and fragrant!


  4. A few more weeks, and I’ll be out there, too! I’ve got 3 New Dawn roses…Sometimes, I just get frustrated and cut them all the way back. By the end of the summer, they’ve reached the roof again!


  5. Holleygarden says:

    Doesn’t it feel good to get out in the garden and prune? I love how the garden looks afterward, too – neat and tidy.


  6. Pingback: We Are Late For Our Haircuts | The Blonde Gardener

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