We’ll be opening up beds by raking and trimming back browned stalks of perennials. There are many plants that need pruning at this season: Butterfly Bush, Caryopteris, Smoke Tree, Honeysuckle Vines (see article below), Colored Twig Dogwoods, White Hydrangeas, and subshrubs such as Candytuft and Germander, plus woody herbs including Lavender, Winter Savory, and Sage.
Perennials to shear include anything left standing last fall. Epimedium, Sedum, and other semi-evergreen plants fall into this category. Ornamental grasses of any size get a hard trim, right to the ground. Trim off browned leaves from Hellebores early so that fresh, green growth can follow quickly.
Assessing winter damage is always an important part of spring. This past winter was not as harsh as some have been, so we hope to see less damage in the landscape. However, late-season ice storms or heavy, wet snows may still be in the offing! We prune out winter breakage as soon as we see it. With broadleaf evergreens such as Rhododendron, Boxwood, and Holly, we often wait a month or two to see if the browned out leaves will drop off and re-leaf naturally, rather than cutting deep into the wood too early.
Our crews are continuing with dormant pruning of fruit trees, winterberry, and any overgrown deciduous material. I like to tackle big inkberries that have gone horizontal in the snow by giving them a hard cut and a new compact template to start spring growth. Any holly or yew also responds well to this treatment! We’ll be sure to finish up dormant pruning before leaves emerge around May 1.