On a recent visit to Sebright gardens I was excited to see a selection of Dwarf bearded Iris in many pastel shades that Elizabeth and Edith would have been thrilled to encounter. Early journal notes show how they loved to combine dwarf and miniature Iris with low groundcovers such as Golden Alyssum and Violas. They were constantly playing with different color combinations.Some time ago, I was talking to Mrs. Strand about the Prunus hedge in the alleyway. She told me that she used to pay a man to trim it every year and he would do it with a machete! She said it was the straightest, neatest work and the hedge always looked best after a machete trim. Recalling my days as a Christmas Tree farm worker, the cultured Christmas trees around the valley are trimmed with a thin-bladed machete-like knife that is so sharp you could shave with it. This seemed an ideal tool to do the Prunus hedge as the Strands did when they were caretaking the garden.
So, on a recent visit to the horticultural supply store, I picked one up and gave it a shot. I will say that, while it is much easier to get a nice straight line with the Christmas Tree knife, it sure does give the swinging arm a workout! A bit of advice, the German-made blades are thinnerso will only cut the finest new growth, while American-made blades are thicker with more backbone for cutting the woodier material.
It was a fun week of trying out some old, time-proven techniques in a garden with a long and storied past. The Camellias are finishing up the bloom so it is on to trimming those. No machete work there, just hand clippers and an orchard ladder for that task.