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We moved into our house two years ago and inherited numerous weeds


By Sejax

Kent, United Kingdom Gb

Need help to ID two shrubs please!

We moved into our house two years ago and inherited numerous weeds (some of which were six feet high in places). We know very little about gardening and are bumbling along getting our garden in order gradually.

We have a couple of shrubs in our front garden which were choked with weeds when we moved in. We removed the weeds and have let the plants do their own thing for a year to try to determine whether they need to be pruned, removed etc.

The shrubs seem to be healthy but, as complete novices, we don't know what they are or when/if they should be pruned or fed or generally maintained.

One of the shrubs - the pale yellow/creamy flowered one - seems to me to be a bit "leggy" so I assume it needs pruning but I don't want to do it at the wrong time of year and kill it! It didn't seem to lose many (if any) leaves in the winter. I was waiting for that to happen to give me a hint about pruning times! I've put on two photos - one showing a close up of leaves and flowers and one showing it's "legginess" and general shape at the moment. It stands around 4.5 to 5 feet high at the moment.

The red shrub seems to be spreading sideways - should it be trained upwards and if so how high is it likely to get?

With both shrubs I need to know how to maintain them and when, if at all, to prune.

Thank you so much for your help.

Jewellery_and_flowers_127 Jewellery_and_flowers_128 Jewellery_and_flowers_130



Well done on saving them both! The first one, I just can't say, sorry. It look to have flowers and leaves of a Skimmia, but I am not sure. Someone else will know.

The second shrub is the wall-shrub Chaenomeles, the Japanese Quince. It works well if you train it a bit as it does tend to grow fairly horizontally. That's why it works well on a can keep it nice and flat to the wall and it covers space horizontally as well as vertically. They don't grow very tall and they don't need much looking after. I prune away the branches I don't want during the dormant season, but that may not be the 'proper' way to prune it. It flowers on old wood, so probably best to prune it in the later spring, as soon as it's finished flowering, if you just want to keep it nice an bushy. Lovely isn't it, and you may get fruits on it in the autumn time too!

20 Mar, 2011


The first one looks like Skimmia [fragrant cloud], and not looking that good, looks past its sell by date to me, the second is as mentioned Chaenomelles, either train it along the wall under the window or let it grow out into small shrub and prune after flowering.

20 Mar, 2011


Hi - I thought the first one might be a verbena but I'm not sure. The others are probably right - more experienced than me !

20 Mar, 2011


If you do get fruits on your chaenomeles you can use them to add interest to apple pies. One or at most two will be enough for one pie. They have a big seedy area in the middle so there is not much useable flesh, but it is very strongly flavoured so you don't need more than a hint Enjoy!

With your first shrub I would try cutting about a third of it back quite hard ( not all in the same place!)to see if it branches out from lower down. It looks as though it has grown so sparse from being choked up with the weeds, so it might well recover now it has more light. If it is a skimmia it should be very bushy and leafy. They don't usually grow more than 5 feet tall and they grow quite slowly.

20 Mar, 2011


It's definitely a Skimmia, so give it a chance to recover - they're such useful shrubs, especially in the winter months. I'd give it a feed of blood, fish and bone, too.

21 Mar, 2011


Thank you all so much for the replies. The chaenomeles (as we now know it is!) was so choked up last year we thought they were dead twigs so we're thrilled that they've flowered. Just goes to show how quickly nature recovers once you give it a chance eh?

We'll give the Skimmia a good feed. Should we cut it down by a third first? And if so, when? We'd hate to lose it. The bees love it even if it is scrawny!

21 Mar, 2011


Wait until it's finished flowering. Feed it after you've pruned it, if you decide to do that.

I think I'd give it a chance to recover and prune it this time next year - just take out any dead wood this time. That's my opinion - I'm not an expert! lol.

21 Mar, 2011


Thanks Spritzhenry and everyone else who's helped with this. The Skimmia is breathing a sigh of relief!

25 Mar, 2011


Good luck with it. They're such useful shrubs. :-)

26 Mar, 2011

How do I say thanks?

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