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  • Angela Jordan

My Chelsea Chop experiment

Updated: May 27, 2022

By Angela Jordan

I am a third-year owner of a flourishing Blooming Boulevard.

The second year I was both amazed, and if I’m honest, slightly concerned at how tall my goldenrod and blue asters grew. After all it really was only the second year!

Below: Angela's garden. Left - first year; right - second year. Photos by Angela Jordan

Quite coincidently I happened upon an article on the Chelsea Chop, getting its name from the famed Chelsea Flower show which takes place in late May. This is also the time recommended when one would chop.

The name "Chelsea Chop" sounds harsh to most of us gardeners as we all dislike chopping anything, but have no fear, I found out it’s a good thing.

It is a term used to chop a third off the top of your bushes to encourage them to branch out in width creating opportunity for many more flowers and a healthier, bushy plant.

Another very important benefit is that it regulates the height of the plants for our boulevards, since we want to stay within the bylaws for the height of boulevard plants.

Initially, my nervousness made me chop with caution, even though our esteemed leader, Jeanne, assured me that it was good to do this .

I have two goldenrods, so I went all the way and chopped right down on one and the other not so much .

With my asters I did the same, but on the second I only chopped selected branches.

I know, I know, call me chicken. 😊 But the good news is, it worked !

I had healthy, beautiful bushy plants, more flowers and more pollinators, and that’s a win-win for all!

I recently did some more research and it looks like more of our native plants don’t mind getting this intense haircut, including yarrow, coneflowers , black-eyed Susan and penstemons .

Chop, chop here I come!

I hope my experience will encourage you to try the Chelsea Chop this year in your Boulevard Garden

Below: New England asters can get quite tall. A Chelsea chop in early June will keep them under a meter in height.


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