Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Time for a haircut

I've been getting our trees trimmed each winter since our third year here, mostly to ensure that we don't alienate one or another neighbor by interfering with their harbor views, which I learned soon after moving in is a very big thing here.  This year the date slid a bit, another byproduct of last year's home remodel.  I just couldn't face squeezing that into the schedule during the holidays.  We finally got the deed done yesterday, although I scaled back the scope of the effort.  We had all six peppermint willows (Agonis flexuosa), all four strawberry trees (Arbutus 'Marina'), and the five cherry laurels (Prunus laurocerasus) that make up a hedge on our south side trimmed.  I skipped the Magnolia grandiflora that got scalped too close last year, the mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) that was literally cut in half last year, the ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana) that's already blooming, and all the citrus trees that are loaded with fruit.

Some cuts were more dramatic than others but the net effect is a sunnier garden, at least for a time.  In all cases, I've shown the before shot on the left and the after shot on the right.

A peppermint willow and a strawberry tree sit side by side on the northwest area of our property.  The strawberry trees (Arbutus) were all cut back hard to provide air circulation, which is necessary to prevent the leaves from developing soot.  I hated to lose all the flowers, though, and I suspect it's going to take some time before the hummingbirds forgive me.

I hadn't cut back the willow (Agonis) at the southeast end of the back garden in 2 years and the foliage was dense.  The thinning should provide more sun to the plants below.

I think it's been about 3 years since I had the Agonis next to the front driveway trimmed.  I usually trim the messy ornamental pear (Pyrus) next to it too but it was too late - the tree sprang into bloom this week.

The 2 willows planted along our west side were thinned but they still provide a nice curtain.  Another willow around the corner apparently got a light unplanned trim as well but I don't have a before shot of that one.

The strawberry trees in the back garden don't look all that different from this angle in their before and after shots

But this photo of the larger of the two from a different angle shows just how much it was thinned.  Arbutus fills in very quickly and will have a thick blanket of foliage again by this time next year.

This Arbutus on the southwest side of the garden is the most difficult to trim as it sits atop a moderate slope largely covered in succulents

The cherry laurel (Prunus) hedge was topped off  and stripped of its shaggy appearance.  I'm tempted to have it removed because the fruit produces seedlings all over the area.  In addition, mice have been carrying the fruit into my shade house and storing it there like a pantry.


Collateral damage to the surrounding areas was mostly avoided.  I asked the tree service to make a special effort to protect the succulents and bromeliads on the garden's northwest side.  Most of the damage I have is on the southwest side of the property on the slope below the large Arbutus; however, I didn't lose anything I consider precious.  Osteospermums were squashed but they'll probably recover once cut back.  Several clumps of Senecio vitialis were damaged but I'd been thinking about pulling it out anyway.  A lot of tall Aeonium blooms were inadvertently beheaded but I'll use this as an opportunity to thin out those plants.

After very warm temperatures last week, we turned cold again this week so I'm content to continue garden clean-up this week.  Mulching is on my to-do list too.  Hopefully, while I putter, our local garden centers to restock their shelves and I can get back to the fun stuff, replanting the areas of my garden I've targeted for this year.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

18 comments:

  1. One day, I need to get the carob at the bottom of our garden lightened. Way beyond my upper body strength. It makes such a difference, in a good way.

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    1. I ended up with a ganglion cyst due to all the pruning I've done over the past 4-6 weeks so trimming the bigger trees was really out of the question - and climbing into trees isn't my thing to begin with. My doctor doesn't understand why I can't just stop all pruning for the next couple of months...

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  2. I think you have a very talented arborist at your service. Kris. The trees all looks great!

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    1. I work with a service that's headed by an arborist. Most of the firms in the area don't even know what an arborist is!

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  3. I bet it is good that you do this also because of the severe winds you get there. I love the bark on the Strawberry tree. I sort of giggled when you said mice hoard the cherries in your shade house. Those rascals. I saw a vole cross a path here in our garden yesterday. Rotten rascals. I wondered where it was going to perform destruction in the garden.

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    1. The main reason for trimming here is to keep any neighbors from filing complaints under our city's "view conservation" ordinance, something I knew nothing about when we moved in. We took down a Eucalyptus due to a complaint by one neighbor about its impact on her view of the harbor but, as Eucalyptus often come down in the wind, I'm glad that tree's gone as it was too close to the house anyway. We took a second tree down in response to the same neighbor's complaint but, when she persisted about removing other trees, I said no more. Now, I just keep what we've got left trimmed.

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  4. Wow, that's quite the change. I wondered about the collateral damage in the garden, as sometimes tree guys aren't so careful in the garden. Bet you're glad it is done. Take care of that wrist.

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    1. Unfortunately, there's no good way to protect the succulents below the strawberry tree on the south end of the garden, something I never considered when I planted succulents there! The crew did a good job protecting the succulents on the flat area under another strawberry tree, though.

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    2. Years ago when we had work done on the siding, I used pallets (mfrs. sometimes give them away) to lay down over the tender plants and that worked well. The guys stood on the pallets. The shrubs were more susceptible, but we got through it!

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    3. The crew staked a tarp floating over the succulents on the northwest end but I didn't even ask them to try that on the sloped south end. I'm just happy they managed to pick most everything up without breaking their necks.

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  5. That's dedication, excellent long-term maintenance for those trees. Your neighbors are lucky.

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    1. After all the difficulties we had with the one neighbor, I'm counting myself lucky that those days seem to be behind us. She moved and no one else has raised any concerns.

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  6. Looks like they did a decent job. Hope your wrist is improving. At least you didn't break it... ;^)

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    1. They always do a very good job - but I still cringe before and after about the inevitable collateral damage. My wrist hasn't improved much but then I haven't stopped my gardening activity for more than a day or two here and there, despite my doctor's sour face. And yes, I count myself lucky I haven't actually broken anything despite my sometimes unpredictable knee sometimes giving way to wobbly balance. I hope your arm doesn't hurt!

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  7. You are so good at writing on your site about your amazing garden! Too bad it is so far between us, would have been nice to visit your garden sometime, but unfortunately it is a too long flight for me.
    Wishing you a good garden year
    Mariana

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    1. I'd love to get to Sweden some day, Mariana, but regrettably that's not on the agenda anytime soon either. Best wishes with your event!

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  8. I'll echo another comment that your tree service guys do a great job - and it sounds like they are careful about the other plants as well. Good luck with the rest of your clean up! I can't wait to get to the plant buying part of spring either!

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    1. In the last week I've seen more plants coming in so we're moving in the right direction at last.

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