Overcrowded Front BedThis is my front garden bed.  Overgrown much?

This small space contains three rhododendrons, three burning bushes, one barberry, and an arborvitae.    All of these shrubs were already well established here when we bought this house ten years ago.  There used to be a second barberry, right in the corner,  but we dug it up, moved it, and replaced it with a Rose of Sharon.  Sharon quickly became to big for the space, so two years ago, I moved her, and now use that corner as a small bed for astilbe and annuals.

I was ruthless in my trimming.  Previous experience has taught me that it is nearly impossible to take too much off of the barberry; it quickly bounces back and sprouts new growth within a week.  I was more gentle to the rhododendrons, now at the end of their bloom cycle, the best time to prune them.  I cut their overall height by about eighteen inches and, at my husband’s request, trimmed back branches that extruded into the walkway.  In all, I probably reduced their mass by twenty-five percent.   016The rubble.  The front pile and the contents of the bin are 99% barberry!

I cut out about a third of the burning bush.  As I trimmed, I concentrated on redefining the boundaries between all of the shrubs and thinning them out to allow for better air and light circulation.  Additionally, I needed to tame the barberry, who, left to its own devices, would happily grab passersby and eat them for lunch, à la Audrey II!  I think it was poor planning to put such a potential monster so close to the sidewalk!021The “After” picture.  I found a small child in the barberry!  (JK!)

We plan to remove the arborvitae, as it has gotten too tall and looks awkward in this space now.  Additionally, next spring, or perhaps this fall, I think we need to remove at least one of the burning bushes.  As much as I don’t like the barberry’s thorns, I love how its red color (which will come back with new growth) contrasts with all of the green in there, so I don’t plan to get rid of it.  I would like to remember to trim it back far earlier in the season than I did this year, though.

For my fellow blogging friend Patrick I also used my new pruners today on the lilac bush.  I could not bring myself to cut it down to one foot all the way around, but I did prune it down quite a bit.  I’m hoping this will encourage it to grow fuller and have more blooms than it did this year.028I probably should have chopped off the tallest branch on the very right; perhaps I’ll be bold enough tomorrow.  It is difficult to see, but the straight upright branch in the center has a good amount of new growth starting; therefore, I did not cut it any shorter.

There are more things out there to prune, but it started to rain, so they will have to wait until another day!