To chop, or not to chop?

 Yes that really is the question.  I have debated for a while whether or not to give the tree heath (Erica arborea estrella gold) a good chop.  It has been getting rather too big for the bed and the Japanese anemones are struggling to get past it now.  As far as I know, you only really prune the spent flowers off straight after flowering and you get lovely new bright lime green foliage.  They should respond well if they are cut back into the old wood but I just couldn’t decide how much I wanted to remove, so for the first chop (after discussing with Debs – our new garden help) she chopped some of the underskirt off first to see if any new growth would appear.  Later I just decided that we should just go for the big chop now so that it had a chance to put on some new growth this year.  So we chopped a bit more off but left a few woody stems at each trunk.  We still can’t decide if we should go even lower than that.  So maybe next week we will have made a final decision.  It certainly lets a lot more light to the plants on other side of the bed.

tree heath before the chop
Erica arborea estrella gold

tree heath after the 1st chop view from upstairs
Erica arborea estrella gold after 1st chop
tree heath after the 2nd chop view from upstairs
Erica arborea estrella gold after 2nd chop

tree heath after 2nd chop view straight on
Erica arborea estrella gold after 2nd chop

This week when Debs came round it was peeing down so we decided to stay indoors.  Time for that big cactus to be re-potted I think.  It has been one of those jobs that I have been putting off because I knew it would be a bit tricky.  As the plastic pot it was in was rather old, it pretty much fell apart which gave Debs a half pot to use to hold the prickly cactus with.  It definitely looks much nicer in this pot.

cactus repotted
Cactus variety unknown

Another job I had been putting off was to sort out the tree fern.  I still don’t know if it is a Dicksonia antarctica or squarrosa.  As the label said antarctica I will go with that, but did have someone round a few years back, who was from New Zealand, and they thought it was a squarrosa as it had a few ‘trunks’ and not just a single trunk.  It has been in the same pot for years now and has grown 6 trunks and is very congested.  I know that only the top parts will grow back so I asked Debs to cut 3 of the smaller trunks off to leave the 3 larger ones.  Debs needed a bit of help from Harry as it was pretty hard work.  She then cut the ends of the old stipes back to neaten it all up, and it now looks great, and instead of being a bit jaggy looking is now looks ever so hairy.  Of the 3 bits that she cut off, only 2 might grow again as the growing tip of the 3rd one just came off.  So we are experimenting with the other 2 to see if we can get them to grow.  The first photo is a few years old but you can see the new trunks growing up and the jaggy ends where I had cut off the old fronds.

tree fern congested before being chopped
Dicksonia antarctica (or squarrosa)

tree fern after being chopped
Dicksonia after being chopped

tree fern close-up of hairy trunks
Dicksonia close-up of hairy ‘trunks’

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