Balling syndrome

Why do I see so many plants "balled" up when I walk or drive places? Plants like Philadelphus, Weigela, Physocarpus, Viaburnum bodnantense, etc. They turn into huge balls of foliage with little or no flowers. I actually find it easier removing 1 in 4 or however many it should be from the base of the plant, rather than hedgecutting or shearing it. I'd never cut a Wisteria with a hedgecutter, so why a Philadelphus. Grinds my gears. 


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,753

    It's done by 'groundsmen' rather than gardeners - we have the same problem in the grounds where I work - shrubs are trimmed once a year all at the same time - late summer, including the cornus image and if at all possible they're 'shaped' as you say.

    They wouldn't know the difference between a Viburnum and a Viola image

    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 11,889

    You see it all the time here in France. Lovely flowering shrubs clipped out of recognition around supermarket car parks.

  • KEFKEF Posts: 8,915

    Annoys me as well. Whilst I was away my brother did this to a Ceanothus Californian Lilac, what was a lovely if slightly overgrown shrub now looks like a blinking lollipop. He thinks it looks good, and if I kick off about it I'll have the shrubs at M's to do as well. image In fact most of the shrubs he goes near get this treatment...anything to do with his new toy, extended hedge trimmer ??image Pity he hasn't got a new spade.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,029

    very few plants look very good pruned like that, the only ones I can think of are evergreen. Many people don't see ugliness of form, if they have a flower they can exclaim over that's enough. 
    I visit a lot of gardens and see many things I wouldn't stand for; sick looking roses, well past their sell-by date, but still flowering in a poor way. Mildewed asters. Chlorotic evergreens on the edge of their lime tolerance, or maybe a bit over. 

    There are so many easy going, disease-free, good-looking plants to choose from.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,091

    The council around here like to lollipop trees.  Tall clean stems, and  small ball heads. I cringe every time I see it.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    They're cellos Verd...

    My ex partner used to do the same - drove me nuts too. And everything had to be no bigger than about 4 feet- regardless of what it was! He had a row of 4 or 5 different shrubs in his garden all trimmed like that image

    I'd rather people took shrubs out if they don't have room to let them look their best or can't prune them so that they look right. I'm not including topiarised shrubs or hedging in that of course, and a row of pollarded trees can look terrific in the right setting.

  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,105

    With all the RHS talk of horticultural careers, maybe they should initiate some sort of training for groundsmen??  Turn it into a skilled job, rather than a hatchet one.

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,029

    Good idea chicky. I think Dove's calling them groundsmen is over-generous. Councils will employ anyone who can stand up and pull the starting cord. At the end of the road where I worked from '95 to 2001 is a row of Canary Bird roses. If I hadn't seen these flower in their first year I wouldn't know what they were. they get hacked back just before flowering every year

  • Glad others feels the same way. I can vaguely understand it in car parks and industrial sites/business parks as the try to keep costs down, but I regularly see this in front gardens. My other gripe is territorial pruning. "Plants are not allowed to be touching". Since when is this common practice. Surely people should just look at mature height and spread on a plant rather than plant a Choisya 2ft away from the next plant when planting out a bed. 

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