How do I prune?
I am a novice gardener in Massachusetts; in fact I'm just starting. I'm learning a lot from the Internet, particularly gardening forums like this one. Please forgive this rudimentary question, but I can't find any detailed instructions on how to prune. So far this summer I've planted a lilac tree, hydrangeas, carpet roses, Summer Wine Ninebark, Black Lace Elderberry, Purple Leaf Sand Cherry, Golden Vicary Privet, Green Luster Holly, Purple Bell Heather, and Calluna SP. Rubrum. All of the instructions for the care and maintenance of these shrubs and flowers talk about pruning - when to prune, etc., but don't explain what pruning really is. I guess I need Gardening for Dummies. By "pruning", am I supposed to cut off flowers or buds after they've bloomed? When I read "prune back", how far "back" should I go? Some of the reading mentions "pinching" instead of "pruning". Am I supposed to literally pinch the buds? Can anybody recommend a good gardening book that explains all of this? Thanks.