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Winter is pruning time

It's July and brrrr, it's cold. That signals time to wheel out the pruning shears, pruning saws, loppers and secateurs.

Before you launch yourself at everything in the garden, however, check those tools over. They need to be scrupulously clean, oiled and honed sharp to avoid damaging plants and spreading disease.

Pruning is necessary to tidy, control height and spread, and promote flowering, maximum fruiting and healthy growth on trees, shrubs and hedges.

The task is best done in winter when most plants are dormant to stimulate fast growth come spring. It's also easier to shape plants when they are minus their leaves.

Size up your fruit trees: prune apples and pears, cherries, citrus, feijoas, figs, olives and crabapples. Also blackberry, loganberry, boysenberry, raspberries and blueberry, red and black currant bushes, grapes and kiwifruit.

In the ornamental garden prune hydrangeas, lilac, clematis and wisteria for the best summer show. See to roses in the depths of winter – next month is recommended.

We're spotting camellia hedges, especially those gorgeous white sasanquas, in gardens all around the Waikato. An end-of-winter haircut will give them a fresh start for the season. Standardised sasanqua hedges, especially the blowsy white single Setsugekka, need to be brought back into shape to retain their line, not become overgrown.

Trim for shape and to remove any diseased or dead wood, and to promote dense, healthy growth.

See to hedge tops when they reach optimum height, allowing the hedge to fill out.

Taper the sides of the hedge slightly towards the top to allow light and rainwater to penetrate lower foliage and the ground beneath.

Keep cutting straight and consistent. Use a guideline if you feel things could go skew-whiff – string stretched between two stakes will do the trick.

After flowering, camellias have a major growth burst, so they'll need feeding up with camellia food after blooms are spent.