Plants will show us how much to trim

It's time to trum the 'curry plant'. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
It's time to trum the 'curry plant'. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

Last week it was trimming time for some important mound-forming perennials that have had decorative value over many months.

Each have silvery grey leaves and yellow flowers. Santolina (cotton lavender), Artemisia (wormwood) and Helichrysum (curry plant) are treated as sheep – the coat of growth that has protected them all winter is removed as spring approaches.

Santolina chamaecyparissus is the cotton lavender, so useful as decorative ground covering. Artemisia absinthium is perfectly respectable, but it can also be found in the Poison Garden at Alnwick. It is the source of absinthe, an addictive drink that Van Gogh and his friends enjoyed.

Helichrysum serrotinum is commonly called the curry plant for obvious reasons when the foliage is rubbed. And H. rosmarinifolius has bright green foliage resembling rosemary.

These plants indicate exactly how much they need to be reduced by. As soon as you part last year’s growth, left in place for frost protection, it reveals a mass of new shoots almost at ground level. Once everything above is cut away, they will develop.