Posted by: locaphile | May 30, 2011

Ooops. Almost Forgot the Chelsea Chop

It is a busy time of year both in the garden and the family. What with Farmers Markets twice a week (Haney on Saturdays and Port Coquitlam on Thursdays with Pitt Meadows coming on Sundays soon), getting the tomatoes out, visiting with family and getting the kids to school, I almost forgot the “Chelsea Chop.”  The BBC in England describes the Chelsea Chop:

Chopping back perennials in late-spring will make bushier plants that flower later on in the season and often flower more prolifically. Known as the Chelsea chop, it is carried out in late May, soon after the famous flower show has finished.

I tried this a few years ago and it really does work wonders for the leggy perennials.  We have clumps of tall perennials like fall-blooming Aconitum (Monkshood), Campanula (Bell Flower), and Veronicastrum (Bowman or Culver’s Root) that benefit from this procedure at the end of May.  Additionally, if you “chop” around the edges of the clump the sturdy edges form supports for the taller centres so you can avoid having to stake these clumps.  The classic Chop cuts the whole clump back by half but I like the modified approach that layers the cuts from short on the outside to the leaving the central stems au naturel.

Veronicastrum before The Chop

Veronicastrum after The Chop - it will grow back and look better soon

Campanula before THE CHOP

Campanula after THE CHOP - ouch

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