Although the eminent philosopher and tank builder, David Hoyle, famously said that “nature doesn’t prune itself”, a large majority of pensioners still prune shrubs and trees in order to maintain vigour, enhance flowering and have an excuse when caught spying on neighbours.

However, according to the RHS, woody plants fall into 12 different groups where pruning is concerned and in practice, this can make correct pruning extremely difficult.  Probably the best course of action is to cut everything to knee height (or head height if you’re standing in a hole) and replace anything that dies with rotary washing lines, basketball hoops, period lampposts and sink holes.

The RHS has also conducted extensive trials into the effectiveness of various pruning implements and these have shown that secateurs, tree saws and other hand tools have no inherent advantage over more vigorous alternatives such as flame throwers, napalm and locusts.