Have you come across Photina Red Robin?  It is a wonderful shrub with red translucent new growth at this time of year.

Photinia red robin

The only problem with Photinia is that it get a bit lanky as it grows.  I planted one at my previous house.  I left it for a few years as it was a shrub and it didn’t need any pruning – did it?  Then I decided that it had outgrown it space and so one day, I set out to prune it.  I started gently, but what ever I did, I just couldn’t manage to get a decent shape to the plant.  Eventually, I had pruned the plant to within an inch of its life.  I should have just left it – I’ll explain in a minute.  But I decided that the plant looked so awful that it just had to go, so I dug it up.  All the while there were tears in my eyes as I had killed such a lovely plant :(.

When I moved to the new house, one of the first shrubs I bought was a Photinia, I needed to have my old friend back.  But I still didn’t know how to look after it.   Luckily one of the mature shrubs that we bought when the garden was re-designed was a lovely large compact photinia and the designer explained what needed to be done. 

Pinching out the new growth

At this time of year, just as the new growth is coming through, you have to pinch out the tops of all the  new growth.  It is a time consuming and painstaking job, but creates a lovely compact bushy plant.  As I do it, I always think of the people doing this to tea bushes, only I don’t fancy making tea out of a photinia :).

So, going back, what should I have done with the plant I killed?  Well, just what I am doing with the photinia that I planted when I first moved into this garden.  I cut it back to a stump which has started to regrow.   A year on, the stump is starting to disappear and the shrub is on it’s way.  Now I have started pinching out the tips on this one and I should soon have a pair of beautiful Photinias at either end of my “long walk”.

Photinia reborn