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Summer sizzlers in the garden

The heavy rains over the Memorial Day weekend spoiled a lot of family beach weekends meant to kick off the summer season, but the wet weather was a boon to those of us who rely on some type of irrigation system to nurture our flower and vegetable gardens through the summer. The rain weighted down the perennials and shrubs, and rose petals now litter the walkway, but the plants will bounce back, and their thirst has been slaked for at least a week. I am comforted by the fact that our rain barrel is full.

This is the period of the growing season when I struggle with what is known as the “Chelsea Chop,” so named for the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Garden Show that occurs annually around the end of May. The Chelsea Chop is a pruning method that was devised to reduce the size of certain perennials that grow leggy and floppy over the summer.

The technique is not difficult. Using shears, prune clumping perennials back by 1/3 to ½ to control their height and to keep them from fl...

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