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Leggy Escallonia and Potato Vine- Help!

Hi Everyone
I have inherited a very beautiful but very overgrown garden in a house move. I’m slowly working my way through everything... this week I am wondering what to do with what I believe is an Escallonia Apple Blossom and a Chilean Potato Vine, which have both become very leggy with growth past head height. The latter is so overgrown it took me a long while to identify it as it does not look like any of the photos i’ve seen online. The purple flowers with yellow centre make me believe the identity is correct?
Part of the reason I love the garden is it’s very private (due to all the overgrown plants!) and has a slight mystery to it. I’d love some advice on giving these two a trim to keep them healthy and bring a bit more growth to the lower halves, whilst keeping a screen to the neighbours (if possible!?). Advice on when is best to prune would be great too. 
Thank you in advance

Believe this is Escallonia 
escallonia on left, Chilean potato vine on right. Approx 10-12ft tall

Chilean potato vine weaving through fence. Bare to approx 2.5m
potato vine stem
new growth on Escallonia from where I cut the worst back last year


  • I have an escallonia which Ioften hack back cos it overhangs the wall next to the pavement. It always bounces back.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    edited May 2020
    I can't see enough detail of the leaves or flowers to confirm Solanum crispum (potato vine) but can tell you they are impossible to train and the most untidily growing shrub/tree I have ever grown!  Try to train a branch and it snaps off.  I grew one in a container for 5 years and it performed really well and growth was fairly tidy due to the restriced growing space I think.  Once it went into the ground, it became a monster and I eventually had to remove it.  I think I'll try another in a pot as it stayed in flower for months.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,966
    I think your shrubs are suffering from a lack of pruning previously.
    As you can see - it doesn't do any favours, as you end up with all the growth up at the top  :)
    A good prune will do the Escallonia no harm, other than losing flowers this year.  :)
    You can always 'rotate' the pruning, if you're concerned about privacy, and take a third of stems back hard, leaving two thirds. If you do that each year, you refresh the whole shrub over three years. 
    I'd follow the advice of @BobTheGardener re the solanum. Not a plant I have ever grown.  :)
    If you do a bit of clearing round the base of some of the shrubs, you could always plant a different, and possibly better behaved, climber to give you the privacy- something that you could train along the fence, and one which would require less pruning. Many of the smaller flowered clematis will do that job.  If you added a bit more trellis to give the height, it might be a good option.  :)

    I'd be more worried about the bamboo...  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • OlivipeOlivipe Posts: 6
    Thank you everyone for your replies- very helpful! I think I will go ahead and prune the Escallonia as hoping the lower growth will continue to come through. 
    @Fairygirl good idea on planting something else, we are hoping to replace the fence and actually have a large Montana clematis further up, I could maybe send a few shoots down the way! Good spot on the bamboo too- I’ve already split it twice! 😓 Lots of work to do..!
    Thanks again
  • OlivipeOlivipe Posts: 6
    I took another photo of what I think is the potato vine just to make sure. I’ve read it’s very unruly as you say @BobTheGardener however, mine is just like a tall spindly tree, not spreading too far.
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