Reading Ali’s recent post at The Mindful Gardener reminded me that I meant to write about the Chelsea Chop. As Ali says, this somewhat alarming sounding garden procedure is more than dead-heading spent flowers to encourage further blooming, or cutting to the roots plants that will have a second flush in late summer (e.g. oriental poppies).
The Chelsea Chop is scheduled for late May – early June around the time of the annual Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show. It involves using sharp shears to cut back later flowering herbaceous perennials by one third to a half. The plant will then grow vigorously, but flower later, so extending the flowering season.
This of course can work very well in large borders as part of a complex growing scheme – and especially in public gardens where the floral show must go on through the summer-into-autumn season. But in my small garden I would end up with gaps. I was therefore very pleased to hear TV gardener, Monty Don, say you can have the best of both worlds by some judicious cutting into a potential flower clump.
This means reducing only some of the growing stems. Phlox, Helenium, Golden Rod, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Sedums and Anthemis all respond well to this treatment. You can also do the same with mint and other herbs, so keeping some stems for cooking, while letting others flower. The bees will definitely be happy with this arrangement.
Meanwhile in this morning’s garden, the oriental poppies are on the wane, the foxgloves are still flowering, and rose Teasing Georgia is bursting out all over and giving us a lovely bowery vista from the kitchen door. Oh yes, and the pink-mauve shaded aquilegias have given way to yellow ones that look like garden sprites with their little wings: