The autumn display of catkins of Garrya elliptica
When and how do you prune back Garrya elliptica?

Garrya elliptica is an extremely handsome evergreen, and a popular choice for going against shady walls in suburban gardens. It is native to the coastal ranges of California and southern Oregon, and is named in honour of named for Nicholas Garry, secretary of the Hudson's Bay Company from 1820-1835. A strange association being that these two locations are almost as far as you can possibly be being that they are situated at opposite ends of different countries!

As attractive as it is, with a mature height of up to 5 metres, at some point it is likely to be necessary to prune it back to suitably maintainable size. While still within a suitable size regular pruning is usually unnecessary and hard pruning should be avoided as this can cause invigorated shoots to soils its natural habit.

Catkins of Garrya elliptica?
When and how do you prune back Garrya elliptica?
There is a general rule of thumb that can be followed with the majority of evergreen shrubs which is to prune back over the summer. This makes sense as many evergreen species from Mediterranean, subtropical or tropical enter a kind of dormancy period as a way of coping with the summer heat. Of course if you pruned back Garrya elliptica in the summer you would be removing the juvenile ornamental catkins and therefore robbing yourself of their ornamental value during the late winter.

Therefore, where pruning is required (as in reduction in height, removal of errant, disease or damaged stems) the best time to prune Garrya elliptica is in early spring. This needs to be timed to fit between just as the catkins start to fade, but before the new spring growth emerges.

With regards to unkempt, overgrown specimens, these can be renovated by cutting them back gradually over three to four years to create a low framework of branches. So long as the specimen is healthy. You will find that the re-growth will be invigorated and will itself require thinning out the following spring. Select the strongest, best-placed shoots and remove the rest.

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Yellow blooms of Erysimum cheiri at the Botanische Tuin TU Delft, Delft, The Netherlands
How to grow wallflowers from seed

Once an extremely popular plant during the Victorian period, wallflowers have steadily fallen out of fashion over the years arguably in favour of the even more brightly coloured and mass-produced (read inexpensive) Tulip bulbs. Despite this, and maybe in part due to the ubiquitous presence of modern Tulips cultivars, wallflowers still manage to maintain a place in the garden. The reason for this is down to those gardeners who are becoming bored of seeing little else other than a sea of different sized, coloured and shaped tulips throughout the spring, wallflowers are without doubt the next in line for being the toughest and most colourful of all Spring flowering plants. In fact wallflower cultivars Erysimum cheiri 'Persian Carpet’, 'Sunset Apricot' and 'Sunset Primrose' have all received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

There was a time when the shops were full of bunches of bare-root wallflowers for little more than 10 plants for £1.00, but nowadays you are likely only to see pot-grown plants at a significantly more expensive price point. However this shouldn't stop you from enjoying these gorgeous flowering biennials as they are easily grown from seed.

As far as traditional bedding plants go wallflowers are amongst the hardiest, but this is understandable as the original species is a native to most of Europe. As such there is no need to propagate under protection as wallflower seeds will happily germinate outside.

Wallflower seeds should be sown during May or June in order to produce plants that can be bedded out in the autumn. Sow the seeds either individually in large modular seed trays containing a soil based seed compost ot thinly in an open, prepared seedbed of any ordinary soil. Gently water them in and they will germinate within a week or so. Generally wallflowers are extremely easy to germinate, just keep the soil or compost on the moist side bt without waterlogging the rots. When the seedlings are large enough to handle (usually around October) they can be carefully lifted, try to disturb the roots as little as possible, and bedded out in preparation for the spring. Pinch out the shoots before planting to create a compact, bushy habit. They are tolerant of most neutral or alkaline soils and will even cope well on very poor soils.

Wallflowers are usually sown one year to flower the next, and then afterwards discarded. This is for two reasonably good reasons. The first is that wallflowers have a tendency to become leggy during its second year. The second is that as time moves on wallflowers become increasingly prone to clubroot.