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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. 



  • 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

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,619

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

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Lupin 1Lupin 1 Posts: 8,916

    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: 27,299

    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.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,258

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

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,955

    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.

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • chickychicky Posts: 10,394

    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.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,299

    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

    In the sticks near Peterborough
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