Summer Pruning in the Jarvie Garden

I hope that I never lose my interest in learning. I think that I could be a perpetual student, at least in subjects I am interested in, lol. I love, love taking garden courses. I have taken quite a few over the years, but my favourite teacher has to be Marion Jarvie.  Every course I have taken with her, I have come out a better gardener. She opened my mind to using trees and shrubs, the way other gardeners use perennials.

 I have taken lots of courses with her, but on Wednesday it was pruning, and it was in her own garden. This was so much better than taking it at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, I am always looking for an excuse to get to see Marions garden. It was also a lot of fun that my friend Barry Parker was there as well. (We actually went to a garden centre after for a spot of shopping).

We started at the road side with a Japanese Maple that she had planted 25 years ago.  It was one of the first trees that she planted on her property and it is huge. Now it is overhanging the driveway a bit too much and needs pruned back.

You have to cut back a tree or shrub gradually, do not try to shape it all in one year. It is best to prune it over 2 or 3 years and give the plant time to acclimatize.  Marion had a friend, David Leeman there to do the heavy work. He is making sure he knows exactly what branch she wants removed, after all you can’t glue it back on.

David removes the branch gradually, first using lopers to take off some of the thinner branches at the end,

and then getting out the saw. He used the saw in two spots, first reducing the length of the branch. This is so, when he cuts it close to the trunk, it weight of it does not tear the bark.  You also want to cut it close to the trunk, but not too close, it is a fine line.  Marion said that you can prune a Japanese Maple any time, except when the days are above freezing, and the nights are below. This is the classic ‘maple syrup’ time, the sap starts to flow , you do not want the tree to ‘bleed’.  I should have taken and after picture, but you really couldn’t see the difference, the mark of a good pruner.

Look at the lovely underplanting of the Japanese maple, Athyrium ‘Ghost’, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ and a variegated hosta, I could copy this look.

After the course was over, I took a look around Marion’s garden. This maple is on my wish list for next year, it is Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’, or the Full Moon Maple.

I love euphorbias, there are a lot of variegated ones out there now, like ‘Ascot Rainbow’, or ‘Silver Swan’.

Under her arbour, a pale pink, double rose of sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), a  red Japanese maple and a lovely variegated grass. I could duplicate this as well.

Here is something else I would like to try, if I could only get Ian to go for it. She topped her blue spruce, and has pruned it well.

Between her and Barry, I can’t decide whose ligularia is lovelier, hopefully mine will be nice as well one day.

I love this small clematis scrambling through the perennials, it is called ‘Rooguchi’, 2 o’s on the tag, but when I googled it, there was only one o.

A golden dawn redwood or Metasequoia, is also being pruned. She is keeping it to roughly 10 feet tall, cut off the leader 2 years ago. It also has a lovely clematis scrambling through it.

Lastly, a great example of pruning. This is a golden euonymous. It has been trained on a pole and kept clipped in a columnar fashion. I could copy that too!

43 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Edith Hope said,

    Dearest D, As it happens, having just now visited ‘A Sense of Place’, I was already in the know of your ‘jolly’ with Barry. What a very splendid and informative time you appear to have had and, after all that excitement, a little shopping spree [which B did not admit to]!

    You will now, doubtless, be flying off to Kilbourne Grove with masses of new ideas for consideration as well as some additional purchases for the garden. This is all, in my view, the very stuff of gardening. Have a really enjoyable, and restful, weekend.

  2. 3

    dorsetmichael said,

    typical! once again a man is made to do all the hard work whilst you ladies stand around chatting! Glad you were so inspired, and we all come away from others gardens with new ideas for our own..such is the way that garden designs are passed around…have a great weekend….

  3. 5

    No wonder you love going to Marions home for a garden class. Her garden is beautiful. Then to get a hands on lesson that just seems like a bonus for you. Have a nice weekend.

  4. 7

    gardeningasylum said,

    Hi Deborah, What a fun day you had! That Full Moon Maple is also on my covet list.

  5. 9

    I love courses. It’s sometimes quite interesting that when you see someone do something that you might have baulked at, it turns out to be quite simple. Then you go and take on a massive task, only to learn that there is more skill involved that you at first thought!

    Oh well, we can but try!

  6. 11

    Marguerite said,

    I LOVE classes! I used to be a volunteer teaching assistant at Van Dusen Botanical gardens in Vancouver and got to take classes for free (the real reason behind my volunteering!) So many great things to learn and other perspectives to take in, all the while in a beautiful garden. What could be better.

    • 12

      Lucky you, I could take classes all the time, especially if they were free! I should check with the Toronto Botanical Gardens and see if they offer the same thing for their volunteers.

  7. 13

    catmint said,

    Hi Deborah, thanks for this post. Makes me realize that if I would have done gardening courses instead of learning by my mistakes, today I would have had an established garden. cheers, c.

    • 14

      Hey Catmint, I think mistakes are part of learning to be a gardener, we certainly all make them. But you can pick up a lot of great tips from classes and from blogs too of course!

  8. 15

    Valerie said,

    Marion does have a wonderful garden and I draw inspiration from her. Unfortunately she is in a Zone 6 with microclimate of maybe a 7. I am a 4B in a frost pocket and cannot grow some of those lovely plants. Oh Well.

    • 16

      It is hard when you see gardens in a much warmer zone. But you can still get a lot of ideas with colours, maybe you can’t have a purple Japanese Maple, but you could use a purple smoke bush and get a similar effect.

  9. 17

    Kyna said,

    Pruning is one of those gardening tasks that I’m so afraid of lol. I have a southern magnolia in the front yard, that Chuck and I planted on our first wedding anniversary. We want to train it into a single trunk form. I’m guessing the tree is about 8-ish years old from its height, but we’ve only had it in the ground for 3 years. I don’t know whether to wait a few years to prune, or start doing it now? Chuck says I should go down to the local nursery (it’s been in operation for almost 50 years by the same family) and ask. But I don’t want to look stupid lol. I need a class myself.

  10. 19

    I love her garden. The colors are beautiful and barely a flower in sight! Genius, just genuis. And you have the room at Kilbourne to let loose and go crazy. Keep us in the loop on your projects! M

  11. 21

    Great post Deborah, sounds like a fantastic day all around!! I am not brave enough to prune, and so my plants grow as they are. But the topped spruce is wonderful and the trained eunonymous is so striking!! I also really like the underplanting, a very impressive display! 🙂

  12. 23

    We have many Japanese maples over the years, and one bad cut can completely ruin a tree. Pruned well though, and they are the absolute delight of any garden. I highly recommend the Full Moon maple. Of the ones I’ve personally grown, it’s been my all time favorite!

  13. 25

    Jennifer said,

    What a nice garden. Such pretty green combinations. I bet it was a great class.

  14. 27

    debsgarden said,

    This sounds like a wonderful day! Pruning is my favorite chore. I love the difference judicious pruning makes in a plant. Marion’s garden is full of great plant combinations. What a treat for you to share. I love the Full Moon maple!

  15. 29

    teza said,

    What a wonderful adventure, and for the course to be held in the esteemable Marion Jarvie’s garden is a most delightful added bonus. The Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ is indeed a lovely tree, and what would you say if I told you we have one specimen left, waiting for someone to take home with them at the garden centre! So true. Larger, close to 5′, but a stunner nonetheless! E.’Ascot Rainbow’ is sitting on the benches too, but it is not hardy here in the slightest! Been there, killed it dead! Metasequoia….. God, you really need to come for a visit soon! Highway 6 from Owen Sound to Fergus!


  16. 31

    Sandra Jonas said,

    Very clever of you to take a class before attempting to prune ‘woodies’.
    That is a wonderful garden you were in and how clever of her to offer her garden and get others to do the work!

    • 32

      I think Marian is the cleverest of them all, how much did we all pay to help her in her garden, lol. Maybe I should hold a class in my garden in Owen Sound, I really need some help with the weeding.

  17. 33

    Sandra Jonas said,

    forgot to mention it is Clematis ROOguchi. bred in Japan by K. Ozawa, a cross between C. integrifolia & C. reticulata.

  18. 35

    PatioPatch said,

    What a great post. Very informative as had assumed tree cutting had to be done before the sap rises. Love the green mosaic underplanting

    Laura x

  19. 37

    Hello Deborah. What an inspiring garden that is. All I have beneath my Japanese Maples is patchy lawn…time to think about opening them up a little to allow some underplanting!

  20. 39

    Barbara H. said,

    Thanks, Deborah, for the lovely garden visit, pruning information and great photos! I realize the Jarvie garden is a stunning subject and it might be hard to take a bad picture of it, but you showed us great plant combinations and gave us lots of food for thought.

  21. 41

    Gorgeous photos and gardens, Loved the topped spruce. I have a concolor I would like to do this to, since I live in the city on a small plot.

  22. 43

    […] know, I know. You are probably horribly bored of seeing Marion Jarvies garden over and over and over again. But I can’t help it, I love it. She is one of my plant gurus. Every […]

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