Lavender and Sage Pruning

Funny how a few days of sunshine can affect work indoors. I have neglected the blog, gotten behind in getting writing deadlines out of the computer and to editors, all to work in the garden. My apologies to all who visit here. What I accomplished though, feels good. I burned 3 brush piles in the north pasture, planted 2 plots of wildflower seed for the bees and started garden bed cleaning. And, our first jonquils of the year are blooming!

The quince, too, are beginning as well as snowdrops and Oregon grape holly. Spring is tweeting in every tree bud, every bird house and in the garden, as well.
Quince flowers are just beginning to open.
The work, however, has been in the sage, lavender and thyme beds. February is not only the month for pruning grape and muscadine vines, but also the sages and sage-relatives. If you don't prune back those plants early in the year they will become leggy. The center of the plant dies and the long, sprawling limbs that may have rooted the previous year, will be the new plant. More often than not, the sprawling that all plants in the family share, means your mother plants die about every 3rd or 4th year. Prune them in early spring and they will live for years.

Here's a regular garden sage, about 15 inches tall and 20 inches across, before pruning.
Same sage plant with 60 percent of the height and width removed.
I prune back lavender, sage, santolina (both green and gray varieties) thyme, winter savory, hyssop and rosemary, cutting back by two thirds. Pruned this way the plants bloom better and produce lots of new growth with good flavor.
Lavender plants before pruning.
The one-year old lavender plants you see above are about 24 inches across and 18 inches tall.
Same plant, cut down to about 8 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
Thyme 'Orange Spice' before pruning.
Seen above is part of the thyme bed before I started pruning. 'Orange Spice' thyme, with its delicious scent and flavor, is next to a French thyme with a lemon scent (both are from Richters.com). Just like sage, lavender and santolina, these thymes will die out in the center if left to their own devices. Their flavor is enormously better when the plants are pruned back, the new growth having the most pronounced fragrance and flavor.
You can see how much I'm pruning this back, taking off probably 6 or 7 inches all over the plant.
Look how much smaller the thyme is in the photo than in the first thyme photo I posted. This is a happier thyme, not drooping to the ground and ready to start growing again.
Green santolina, if not pruned yearly, dies out within a couple of years.
Even with last year's drought, which killed several of my Helleborus, most of them survived and are blooming.

1 comment:

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Ok, my sprawling sage is being pruned in about five minutes.

I love checking in on you and don't always take time to let you know how much I appreciate you.