October is a busy month for secateurs. Now we can chop to ground level all summer fruited raspberry canes, making way for vigorous young ones that have grown tall as we picked the fruit.
Next up are the blackcurrant bushes. Pruning them is all about encouraging healthy young stems, preferably those rising from ground level because they bring vigour. Best time is now, while stems that carried the fruit are easily recognised. Remove them along with as much of the old wood as possible.
Training gooseberry bushes in goblet fashion, so the centre remains open and less prone to mildew, is easily achieved by surrounding a young bush with canes that radiate outward from a central point. Tie each main stem to a cane initially and they’ll hold that position.
Annual spur pruning, which amounts to reducing every lateral to three bus stems, can be done now.
Autumn and winter winds can cause much damage to perennial plants with an excess of top growth. That’s why we prune shrubs such as buddleja and lavatera at least by half in autumn, then follow up with definitive pruning in late winter.
If secateurs cannot cope with thicker stems, we can always reach for the long-handled pruners.