Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Conmen, Conveniences & Cornus

As far as Tuesdays go, today has been pretty ordinary on the whole. Mostly small properties to tend in the Boscombe area, gardening has been really quite pleasant and interesting. People on the other hand never cease to confound me. During a short break for lunch, a car pulled up opposite me, and a young guy approached my window. The conversation went a little like this, but actually took about fifteen minutes and was very 'nice'.
'Hello, please excuse me, do you speak EEtalian?' (he was Italian!)
'No, sorry, but your English sounds pretty good'
'Can you help please, I need to get to London.' (as he shows me a 1:100,000 scale map of Great Britain)
As we are in the maze that is the drug and prostitute area of Boscombe, I try to generally point him eastwards towards the main motorway area.
'Thank you, thank you, you are very kind, generally in that direction to start with, I understand.'
Lot's of chat follows from both sides concerning spaghetti and Montalcino
'You are so kind, and it's good to hear someone who knows EEtalee. Please, wait there, I give you a gift!'
It's at this point that the gold ring in Paris ploy is coming to mind, but I wait expectantly.
'Please, for gratitude, these are for you, I want no payment!'
As I peruse the four rather lovely gold watches that have been dropped into my lap, still in their boxes, and insist that I cannot accept such generosity, I wait for the punchline that I now know is coming.
'I ask for nothing but perhaps a Leetal mounay to buy some petrol, as we have a long way to go and won't be able to go to the bank until we get to London.
And there it was, the gold ring in Paris ploy.
I explained that I never carry cash. He thanked me anyway, grabbed the watches, smiled and went away in completely the opposite direction I had told him that he should take.
Fifteen minutes of my life never to return.
Still, as lunchbreaks go, it wasn't boring, or over yet. I needed to use a public convenience, as one does. On entering I should have been more aware of the gentleman already in there for reasons that I shall keep to myself, but as I was leaving, his intentions became quite clear, and I too made mine just as clear. After all, I am a happily married man!
So, a funny old Tuesday really, but back to some gardening from the last few days.
Cornus sanguinea ' Midwinter Fire' 
There have been a LOT of Cornus to prune this week. Not the forms such as Cornus kousa, florida, or controversa etc, that are best left alone as specimen trees and such like, but the more common dogwoods that are grown for their winter bark colour. Red, yellow, lime green, pink and orange, they can be a simple but magnificent addition to a border.
This fellow in the picture below is Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire', and the bark colour of orange and yellow has now dulled as it approaches it's new growing season.
Although textbooks generally advise the dogwoods to be pruned down to about two inches, they can in fact be pruned to whatever height takes your fancy. When viewed close up, then perhaps a really severe pruning is appropriate, but for a border seen from a distance, a larger framework may be required. Please bear in mind that these are just preferences of mine though.
When pruning Cornus, whatever height you decide, always make a horizontal cut just above a pair of buds. The higher you prune, the more dividing stems there are to prune at, and thus give more new stems for the following winters colour and so on. I wouldn't however recommend pruning above twelve inches though, after all, we are not the local council wielding a hedgetrimmer!
This one I pruned down to about five inches, and will result in a shrub slightly larger than in the first picture.
What with all the snow and bad weather we have been getting in the area, lawn treatments have been slow to happen. But it's just as well..............

 ...........because scaffolders and their driving is giving enough to worry about with the grass for now anyway! Understandable this though. After all, the drive is only fifteen feet wide and straight!
Take care all of you.


  1. I always like that you write so interestingly about the mundane

  2. An interesting lunch for sure!

    Midwinter Fire is very pretty. I didn't know you could prune a dogwood down so much and get all that growth back. Wow. That how we do butterfly bushes.

    Will you get fill dirt for the ruts in the lawn?

  3. Hi John,
    Thank you, very kind. I do find that it's very often the mundane that passes us by sometimes.

  4. Hi Anonymous,
    Once again, although your warmth and welcome make me ooze with desire to surf your website, I don't know you or whether your site is safe. After all, we don't want gremlins jumping the borders do we?

  5. Hi Sherlock,
    Lunchtimes....sometimes a sandwich, and sometimes a little more. Most of the dogwoods grown for their colour are best pruned down very hard each year. It makes for an entire shrub full of colour, rather than just the top two thirds, and the shrubs is a better shape, as when they are just left, they can spread into all shapes and directions.

  6. That was a good lunch break....you confuse me with all this cornus this and that. I thought it was Dogwood it grows by rivers and ponds. Yours is posh dogwood. It grows in the middle of a lawn. Feel free to use posh words. It's your blog.

  7. Hi Adrian,
    With all the rain we have been getting over the last few months, the lawns are like rivers and ponds anyway. As far as posh words go, all I can say is by way of a reply is Ornithogalum adseptentrionesvergentulum

  8. Sounds as if you've been having a lively time! Some pruning must have come as a relief.

  9. Hi Linda,
    It's always nice to put the hedgetrimmer down and get the secateurs out.