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risk taking in the summer garden

Any gardener with any experience of a hot Melbourne summer will tell you you're stupid if you  cut things back hard when temperatures soar. Keep a protective cover over the soil as much as possible, they will say, and don't stress plants already under challenge. Sensible advice ...  but the trouble with this advice is -
1. When the spring annuals have disappeared the 'bones' of the garden become prominent, clearly showing me which plants need to be cut back because they don't look good any more, and what gaps need to be filled.

2. It is the summer holidays when I have the most time to garden.

We gardeners are supposed to be patient. If I show a bit of restraint, it's with a big effort.  So far this summer I have managed with great difficulty to resist buying new plants or moving old plants.

Pruning, when applied to some shrubs, feels more like sculpting than just chopping back. The Plumbago growing on the front fence is mainly a chopping back job. The five Lept…

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