Pruning for Colour
Although you might not expect it, June is a busy month for pruning. It's the perfect time to cut back tender sub-shrubs – the not quite shrubby but too woody to be a herbaceous perennial – after the danger of frosts has finished. These are left with all their old flower heads for the winter and spring to protect them but by now I'm itching to give them a good short-back-and-sides. How hard I cut back depends on how leggy and misshapen they've got but I'm often pretty tough. The good thing about cutting back now is you can see all the new little shoots developing low down on the woody stems which makes it easier to be brave and cut back hard. The plants will be all the better for it.
Pruning for Flower
It's hard to beat early summer flowering shrubs for sheer sugary flower power. I'm talking about those favourites like Deutzia, Kolkwitzia and, of course, Weigela. These all need pruning after they've finished flowering which is usually in late June or July to ensure a lovely show next year. The problem is that if this job is left too late or even, dare I say it, forgotten completely, the new growth put on after pruning may not have enough ripening time to flower well next year. Timing is crucial as the new growth this season will ripen and be ready to flower in May and June next year.
Pruning for Kindness
It's a shame to have to prune a deciduous magnolia but occasionally it does have to be done, usually when a branch drops so low I cannot get under it with the mower despite gymnastic contortions. But, if you've got to do it then now is the time, once the plant is in full leaf and it's finished flowering. If you do it in winter, when the tree is dormant, you can get dieback, and pruning in late winter or spring can result in bleeding. So midsummer is the moment.