Our annual tree pruning exercise was scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving this year, starting at 8am. The company's president and arborist always arrives about a half hour earlier to review what's to be done with his crew's lead and to get any final input from me. As a result I was up very early and was able to watch the sunrise.
I always freak out a bit before my trees are trimmed. In addition to the almost inevitable collateral damage to surrounding plants, I worry about cutting back the trees too much, leaving them looking awkward for months or longer. Given our increasingly hot summers, I'm also wary of diminishing the shade the trees provide so I emphasized that I wanted all but three trees on this year's list "lightly" trimmed.
The three trees that received the most extreme haircuts were all peppermint willows (Agonis flexuosa). We have six of these trees and I usually have one or two of them trimmed each year but I'd ignored the two facing the street and the largest one, located in the southeast corner of our back garden, for a few years. My husband and I'd attempted some minor pruning of one of the street-facing trees several months ago, resulting in him tumbling from the ladder on uneven ground as I tried to break his fall. Neither of us broke any bones but we did get a scare and some nasty bruises so we'll be leaving that job to professionals in the future.
|The two street-facing willows screened much of the front garden from view and shielded us from the sun but some of the plants behind that screen will benefit from the increased sunlight
|This is a view of the same street-facing willows from a different angle
In addition to the three peppermint willows, four strawberry trees (Arbutus 'Marina') were trimmed. I have these trees trimmed every year to ensure air flow within their canopies, preventing the sooty mold that can otherwise develop. Their before and after photos look a lot alike but that's because most of the trimming is done to the interior areas.
|This is the largest of the two strawberry trees in the back garden
|This is a photo of the interior of the canopy of the larger of these two trees
|Before and after shots of the large strawberry tree on the south side of the front garden
|Before and after shots of the strawberry tree on the north side of the front garden
|View of the interior canopy of the large strawberry tree in the front. This tree sits at the top of a moderate slope, which is planted with a copious number of succulents. These were also mostly undamaged.
Three other trees and one cherry laurel hedge (Prunus caroliniana, not photographed) also got trimmed.
|The Hong Kong orchid tree (Bauhinia x blakeana) gets very twiggy and growing branches tend to scrape the roof, which is both unsafe in the event of fire and very noisy during our frequent bouts with Santa Ana winds. It got a simple cleanup.
|In prior years, I felt the Magnolia grandiflora got scalped but this year I felt the trimming was just right
|The ornamental pear (Pyrus calleryana) showed signs of fire blight, a disease that causes branches to die back, a couple of years ago but the tree crew managed to cut out the problem back then and this year all it needed was shaping
The best news is that there was less collateral damage than usual this year and the crew was in and out in just over five hours. Job done until next year, when I may add some of our citrus trees to the mix - pruning them myself has gotten harder as those trees have gotten taller.
All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party