I prune Betula jacquemontii, magnolia and a variegated tulip tree.
I squirm when I hear gardening commentators advise “give it a haircut”. This implies to me pruning out tiny pieces at the edges. Invariably wrong, unless you are cutting a hedge! I know less confident pruners than me will want to go carefully when they prune a large shrub or small tree - you cannot put a severed branch back - but as you gain confidence a few judicious surgical removals is often all you need. It may be that a nervous pruner needs someone to stand back from the tree and advice “cut that branch there”. Pruning after all is an artistic activity and one person’s artistic triumph may be another’s horrible mess. The pruning I show you today might in your opinion, be in the latter category! The biggest compliment I wish to receive when I prune Is that no one notices I have chopped out half a tree! When the arduous task of removing the severed limbs from the site is completed I am delighted if the casual observer does not detect any pruning at all!
When pruning a shrub or tree there are many considerations apart from the individual plant. Of course the plant should look natural, open and airy, healthy, disease free and in many cases smaller. Pruning should also accommodate the needs of other plants and overall garden design. You do not want adjacent plants to compete with each other or suffocate and hide underplanting nor cut out a lovely view. Compromises need to be made for the sake of the overall beauty of the complete garden. You do not prune a plant in isolation.
Pruning Betula jacquemontii
As a result of several veiled hints from management (Brenda) that our ‘small grove’ of ‘jacquemontii’ were getting somewhat out of hand, last month I got out my triangular saw with it’s recently replaced sharp blade, my ratcheted loppers, my ordinary loppers (I hate the telescopic type that always seem to come loose!) and my felco secateurs. I made a few quick cuts. There were a few larger branches that were growing in the wrong direction and a few wispy growths that would eventually make crowded branches. It took thirty minutes to prune and an hour to clear all the debris.
|Too many crowded small branches here.|
|Same tree five minutes later. Perhaps I have been a little severe|
This tree has made a strong leader that is getting too high and making it look top heavy
Note the red line where I am about to make a cut
|Just one near horizontal cut to prune the whole tree. That large cut will soon heal over. I might rub a bit of soil on the wound so Brenda does not notice! I won’t worry the cut is rather horizontal, it has sufficient slope not to collect water|
Pruning my magnolia
My acid border was getting out of hand and the magnolia, liriodendron and cut leaf maple are fighting. I anticipate lovely autumn colour on my blueberries below but they are overgrown, hidden and shaded .
|It looks a bit crowded|
|Magnolia prunings. 50% of the tree gone. The loppers and saw was all I needed.|
|You can do this pruning at any time. Note the fat autumn flower buds. Only the ‘hair cutting brigade’ who remove all the flower buds each time they prune need worry that there will be no spring flowers|
Pruning my variegated liriodendron (tulip tree)
|Liriodendron is very crowded and has two competing vertical leaders|
|Note the horizontal cut where I have removed a rival leader. I have crown-lifted by completely removing some low branches. The liriodendron and magnolia no longer crowd each other|
|Pruned liriodendron. Examine the leaves and see why it is called a tulip tree|
Pruning a cut-leaf alder
|The cut leaf alder at the bottom of my garden is getting very heavy and is causing dense shade. Many branches threaten to make large limbs in unsuitable directions|
|I have cut a lot of wood away but have retained the height of the alder|
And one more clip
Just a little job. Call myself a gardener to let this vertical sucker on my small contorted hazel get so long. It needs just one snip.
I have enjoyed all that work pruning and when I burn all that wood in the farm field at the bottom of my garden I will have another barrowload of ‘charcoal’ for my terra-preta bed!
Search my blog for pruning
I now seem to have a small collection of pruning posts. To find them all you need do is insert ‘pruning’ in my search box and see what you find. I found these.
When I finished pruning I was a little concerned that on the tulip tree and the alder I had two high exposed leaders which now lacked the protection of surrounding branches. I hoped there would be a few weeks of kind weather for them thicken in response to wind stresses. The following weekend we had sixty mph gales. I need not have worried my trees are fine.