November 21, 2017

A Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Garden Cleanup

Saying "Goodbye" to "Annabelle" for the Season


I think it's safe to say that most Toronto gardeners recognize Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens "Annabelle") since this shrub is so commonly used in our local gardens. Why? Likely because it's relatively cheap to buy, easy to maintain and, I guess, many homeowners have a thing for white pom poms.

By late autumn, however, as the picture below shows, "Annabelle" often looks tired and wants to nod off for her winter slumber.


Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services before
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup

If applicable during a fall cleanup, I always ask the homeowner (my client) whether she or he wants me to cut down "Annabelle"s floppy stems or leave the shrub alone in the hope that snow falling and collecting on the spent flower heads produces "winter interest" for the viewer. Now if the stems were sturdy and the old blooms were upright, I would say "let's not touch them until next spring" but in most cases, the shrub hasn't been pruned for several seasons, many central stems are dead and existing stems tend to be "leggy" and prone to bend. 

In other words, the client instructed me to cut them down to about 6 inches off the ground with the result below:


Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services after
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup

Instead of seeing a bent mound of dead and dormant stems and blooms, my client will see such stubs until snow covers them. This isn't a good or bad thing in my opinion. Many clients believe that this will save work next April or May (it will) and since I'm here raking up leaves and cutting down the other perennials, "I might as well look after the hydrangeas" in their minds.

could argue with my client about the advantages of not pruning "Annabelle" hydrangeas in the fall but it's not good business sense to argue with a client when the plant's health isn't compromised by pruning hard now. (It's not smart to argue with your client for whatever reason because even if you "win", you lose.)


Smooth hydrangeas bloom on new stems anyway so cutting stems hard now or 5 months later isn't an issue with me. It's not like I'm "meatballing" a Japanese maple or anything egregious like that.
 



Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup before by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup before

Here's the view looking towards the back fence before and after the cleanup. Besides pruning the hydrangeas, I cut back the old mushy hosta foliage and flower stalks and tattered lily of the valley leaves while not touching the lavender (foreground right) and the sole Fothergilla shrub (background left).

 

Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup after by Paul Jung Gardening Services
Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup



Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Backyard Garden Clean up by Paul Jung Gardening Services before
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Backyard Garden Clean up



Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Backyard Garden Clean up by Paul Jung Gardening Services after
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Backyard Garden Clean up


Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services before
Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup before

Here are the views looking from the back fence towards the house. It was a very gusty day so leaves fell as soon as I raked them up. Notice the smooth hydrangea stubs. Which look do you prefer: stubs or no stubs?



Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services after
Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Backyard Garden Cleanup after



Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Front Yard Garden Cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services before
Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Front Yard Garden Cleanup  before

I also tidied up the front yard and the pictures above and below show the view from the front door down the path leading to the sidewalk.The gardens are mulched so I didn't go crazy with the leaf blower. As long as the path was cleared of slippery wet leaves (a lawsuit waiting to happen otherwise), a few leaves in the beds were acceptable.



Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Front Yard Garden Cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services after
Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Front Yard Garden Cleanup after



Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Front Yard Garden Clean up by Paul Jung Gardening Services before
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Front Yard Garden Clean up before



Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Front Yard Garden Clean up by Paul Jung Gardening Services after
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Front Yard Garden Clean up  after


Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Front Yard Garden Clean up by Paul Jung Gardening Services before
Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Front Yard Garden Clean up  before


As I have often been doing during 2017's fall cleanups, I had cut down old peony and phlox stalks. The mophead hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) is not pruned since next year flower buds are on the stalks now.


Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Front Yard Garden Clean up by Paul Jung Gardening Services after
Cabbagetown Toronto Fall Front Yard Garden Clean up after


Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Front Yard Garden Cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services before
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Front Yard Garden Cleanup before

And lastly, here are the views of the front path leading to the front door. The spirea just behind the gate needs to be pruned next spring as it's getting too wide and encroaching on to the path. Why this shrub was planted in a 12" wide bed is another story....


Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Front Yard Garden Cleanup by Paul Jung Gardening Services after
Toronto Cabbagetown Fall Front Yard Garden Cleanup after