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Okay, for those of you who have read my ‘ramblings’ for any length of time, you are probably familiar with my personal crusade against the widespread pruning epidemic of creating balls, cupcakes, frisbees and other assorted shapes with flowering shrubs.

The fact that pruning flowering shrubs too often can lead to early plant death plus extra maintenance because it causes your shrubs to grow faster as well as causing them to require more water may not be reason enough for someone to stop.

Well, maybe the fact that repeated pruning (shearing) of flowering shrubs can leave them looking like this, may help them to finally stop….

Not very pretty, is it?  

This is what is left of three Desert Cassia (Senna nemophila) shrubs after they had been repeatedly pruned into round shapes using hedge-trimmers.

Well when flowering shrubs are repeatedly sheared with hedge trimmers, to create the much desired green ‘ball’ – it keeps the sunlight from penetrating inside of the shrub.  This leads to the death of some of the interior branches.  In addition, pruning repeatedly with hedge trimmers, does not get rid of any old branches and therefore new branches do not grow.

Now a healthy flowering Desert Cassia (Senna nemophila) looks much healthier and beautiful.


The Desert Cassia, above, was planted by me in a large feature area located next to a golf course.  I would have the landscape crew prune it back to 2 ft. every spring, once it had finished flowering, which is when this particular shrub should be pruned.

I did not let the crew use hedge-trimmers, although they certainly wanted to.  But, I actually took the time to teach them the reasons why repeated shearing with hedge trimmers was a bad idea and then I made sure that they used loppers or hand pruners to prune them correctly.

Now, when flowering shrubs are pruned back severely to 1 – 2 ft. – they don’t look pretty.  In fact, they look like a bunch of ‘stick’s sticking up out of the ground.  But this stage only lasts a few weeks.

But, what happens is that the pruning stimulates the formation of new growth, which produces more leaves and flowers then if you just continued pruning off the top inch or so.


I would much rather see a flowering shrub with flowers on it, wouldn’t you?

Now, if you haven’t gotten enough of my ‘preaching’ against over-pruning, you can read more at Flowering Shrubs Aren’t Meant to be Cupcakes

So, do you want to stop over-pruning your shrubs?

How do you start?

Well, it is best to start by severely pruning your shrubs –
BUT ONLY AT THE TIME OF YEAR WHEN YOUR PARTICULAR SHRUB SHOULD BE PRUNED.

I will work on a list of the most popular shrubs that grow in the low & high desert and give you a timeline in my next post 🙂

Although it is still technically winter here in the desert, the signs of spring are everywhere….

The plum tree at Double S Farms begins to flower.
Earlier this week, I noticed the plum tree that sits in front of the house at Double S Farms, is just beginning to unfurl it’s flowers.  I cannot wait to have some of my mother’s plum preserves in a few months :^)
Yesterday, I traveled up to an area north of Fountain Hills, AZ, which is approximately a one hour’s drive from my home.  It is also the place where I worked for over 5 years.  I was asked to do a landscape consultation for a client and so I brought my camera along to see what signs of spring I could capture in the surrounding area.
 
I went for a drive on one of the golf courses that I used to work on and immediately headed for one of my favorite places.  This area of the golf course borders the desert, with only a barbed wire fence separating the natural desert from the golf course.
 

The desert was lush and green as a result of the winter rains we have received.  Snow can be seen melting from the top of Four Peaks Mountain in the distance.
 
Flower buds are beginning to form at the tips of the Buckhorn Cholla.
 
 
Tiny blue flowers grace this Rosemary shrub.
 
Next, I went on a drive around the beautifully landscaped homes and took pictures of the plants that were in flower. 

Threadleaf Cassia (Senna nemophila)
Cassia shrubs, a favorite Australian native of mine, are beginning to flower showing off their bright yellow blossoms.
 
Trailing Indigo Bush (Dalea greggii)
Tiny purple petals are just beginning to peek out from the Trailing Indigo Bush.  Their vibrant purple color contrast so beautifully with the gray-green leaves of this groundcover.
 
Sweet Acacia Tree (Acacia farnesiana)
This native desert tree is encased in fragrant, golden puffball flowers. 
Octopus Agave (Agave vilmoriniana)
This Octopus Agave, which I planted years ago, is working towards achieving it’s crowning glory – rapidly growing it flowering stalk, which will produce hundreds of new ‘baby’ agave plants.  Once it has finished flowering, it will die.
 
Gopher Plant (Euphorbia glandulosa)
An ugly common name, graces this beautiful succulent plant.  In spring, they are covered with vibrant, chartreuse colored flowers.
  
Valentine Shrub (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)
I would like to finish this post by showing you a photo that I took yesterday of my favorite shrub, Valentine.  They were in full-bloom yesterday and it was obvious that they are my favorite as they were present in most landscape areas that I had designed years ago.
Thank you for allowing me to show you some of the beautiful plants that I have been so blessed by seeing this week.  This is such a wonderful time of the year in the desert and it isn’t even spring yet!  
As winter ends and spring begins, there will be more to see….wildflowers, flowering Palo Verde trees, cactus flowers and much more!