I was at the point of phoning my customers to advise them to begin watering their perennials, shrubs and trees. Our winter had been mild and snowless and the ground was drying out. But this has been a March to remember: snowfall after snowfall has finally covered our garden, and we can rest easily until the thaw. Soon we will see how the garden will respond to this delayed winter, and then I can put the previous years plans into effect.

This spring I will take on what I have delayed for too long. Two thirty year-old cotoneaster hedges that frame my front garden must be reconditioned. Many of the stems are blighted and covered with scale, and the solution in my garden is to resort to a complete cut-back, cleaning out all the dead wood and leaves and leaving only 5 cm stems of healthy wood. It is drastic, and I dread the affect that it will have on my garden’s appearance, but it must be done. It is this hedge that gives the appearance of order in my otherwise disorderly garden. It is this hedge that provides the back-drop to all my perennial plants. It is this hedge that defines the garden for what it is.

So for two or three years I will have to live with a frameless front garden, anxiously waiting as the new shoots rise and grow and fill out in response the clipping. I can then begin to shape the hedge again, and once more feel secure in our green haven.


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