A ‘seedy’ garden is a good thing
The adjective seedy would normally denote an area of an unpleasant appearance, but not so the case in the garden.
There, it denotes the appearance of seed as a positive attribute. Seed is the outcome of flowering, which indicates that the scourge of any garden – the machete – has been lain to rest.
Seed is a major player in the life of plants as it is their reproductive mechanism – found within a fruit – as well as, in many cases, food for the table.
The appearance of a flower is the first phase of seed/fruit production and is a signal to allow Mother Nature to “do her thing” in developing into a flower followed by the fruit.
This leads me to the point of the unnecessary usage of the machete, and the damage it can inflict in the long-term of the plant’s growth. It is a simple rationale: why buy a flowering plant and immediately reduce its capacity and natural instinct to produce flower!
The initiation of a flower bud is a long time in the making, it is not seen as it is initiated in the juncture of a leaf and node, hence the need for a careful cut when pruning to avoid damage to the potential growth of the flower.
It is important to accommodate the future needs of a plant’s growth habit when designing a garden or simply replacing a “gap” in the plant bed by realising the potential growth of the plant and its relationship to its neighbours.
This understanding of growth association will allow the floriferous nature of the plant to flourish, and not end up being simply another “green” plant in the bed.
Over-pruning creates a heavy, thick branch structure in the lower area of the plant which, in time, reduces the all-round appearance of the plant. If pruned no more than three times per year it will be the form of the pruning which will dictate future growth, thus giving the opportunity for new replacement growth especially in the lower regions of the shrub. The unnecessary pruning at “odd” times, removes potential flowering whilst the bud is in the formation stage and is lost.
With the summer heat now well established and growth accelerating, it is a good time to consider reviewing the growth of established material.
This is a time where a second pruning can be carried out to reduce the impact of potential hurricane damage. Plants showing dense, heavy growth should be “opened up” to reduce the weight factor of the plant and create a filtering mechanism for strong winds.
Damage to plants takes time to recover; it can impact the health of the plant if too much damage is incurred. It can also impact flower, seed and fruit production, contingent on the extent of the damage.
Hedges should be viewed as not only a screening feature, but also a flowering entity and thus pruned accordingly.
The constant action of a straight top and sides does little to “adorn” the plant’s potential appearance.
As growth is now active it is a good time to prune out old, dying and diseased branches to generate replacement wood for flowering and future development of the branch system.
Seed and fruit are part of the dynamic of the flowering process, adding aesthetic value as well as function in the process of the seed and fruiting capacity.
A seedy garden therefore offers the viewer a panorama of colour, shape and size which, in its own right complements the associated blooming of neighbouring plants.
Seed is the source of future generations of plants whilst many fruits are nutritious and a healthy part of a diet.
It is interesting how we play with words and usage of their connotations.
Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in the United Kingdom. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society