Timing is Everything—Landscape Maintenance in January. Let The Light Shine In

People ask, “What should I do in my yard in January and February? Is it time to prune the shrubbery? What else should I do?” Here are some of the treatments that I provide for my clients this time of year. It also occurred to me that I am one of my clients, thanks to the suggestions of my sweet wife.

Many of our evergreen trees this time of the year have lots of brown spots     and begin to appear straggled. The trees and shrubs grow luxurious foliage in the summer which shades out the growth inside the plants. In the winter, a good thing to do is to prune the trees and trim out all of the brown and unsightly debris. Here is a picture of a cripsii cypress that has been carefully pruned and cleaned. Notice all the places where the light can shine in. The tree will begin to grow and fill in during the spring and summer.

evergreen-1

This cripsii cypress in January has been pruned and cleaned to be ready for spring growth.

Mid January to early February is the optimum time to prune boxwoods. The lateral buds in the boxwood are waiting to grow but the apical buds (those on the tips of the stems) need to be removed before new growth begins in the spring. To see how this actually works, read a short article titled “The Basics of Pruning that I wrote a number of years ago.

Pictured below is a prized boxwood belonging to one of my clients. He said, “That’s my pride and joy. I haven’t allowed anyone to touch it because no one seemed to know exactly how to do it.”

But I knew what to do—I’ve been doing it for over thirty years. It is a job to be performed by hand, with pruning shears. Power pruners should not be used on a nice plant like this.

boxwood-1

This boxwood needed pruning and shaping to let the light in and to thereby gain strength

Pruning took hours, but if you look at the plant in this picture you will see that it has retained the potential for its free-form shape but has also had the canopy of top growth lightened up to allow light to filter in and encourage inside growth and stem strengthening. Also notice that I am in the process of spreading lime which will help to neutralize the acid in the soil and make the plant more receptive to fertilizer in March.

boxwood-2

Boxwood plant has been carefully pruned and I’m adding lime to sweeten the soil.

As I write this article I have found a theme in winter duties—allowing the light to shine in.

Our next job was to trim the liriope (monkey grass) to remove last year’s growth and to allow the light to better reach the new growth in the spring. We have found that a weed eater does a most efficient job of this and that we can clean up with a rake and a blower. The liriope that remains after cutting should be about two inches high. It is also good to add lime to this plant in the winter.

trim-liriope

January is a good time to trim liriope (monkey grass). This will give more light to the spring growth and allow it to grow freely.

Back at our home on Oakwood Street, my wife and I decided to tackle the dwarf yaupon hollies that are getting a bit overgrown. Again you will see that the canopy of leaves is not allowing the light to shine in. To quote Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

yaupon-3

The dwarf yaupon holly is overgrown and the inside growth is week. It needs pruning for appearance and strength.

After talking about it, we decided to get a bit radical on these plants. I pruned them for light, growth, and shape instead of worrying about how they will look for the next six weeks. I have found that it doesn’t hurt at all to cut the hollies radically because they will grow right back and will look better than ever.

yaupon-1

The yaupon holly after drastic pruning. With a little warmth and spring weather this plant will be magnificent.

I hope this information helps. There are a couple of other articles that you may be interested in:

Deadheading and pruning hydranges in January
Prune and trim an overgrown bonsai tree

Thank you for visiting my site and if you like what you see, tell your friends. I started this site almost 9 years ago with the goal of answering questions that I found myself answering frequently. There are many articles on this site and you may find the search feature helpful. – John Schulz

Pruning Azaleas in May-June. Follow These Instructions For Better Shape and Many More Flowers.

Azalea two years later for blog

Two years after shaping, cleaning, and fertilizing our neglected azaleas we were rewarded with quite a show

Late May to early June is the time to work on azaleas. If you prune them, clean them up and fertilize them during this period, you will have beautiful plants with more blooms the following spring. Here’s the rationale:

  • Proper pruning will encourage the stems to branch out
  • Branching forms new stem tips—and lots more of them
  • Azaleas bloom on these new tips, so—more tips makes more blooms.
  • Most azaleas form new growth in the summer.
  • Fertilizer will help them to form the new growth.
  • They form flower buds for the following year in August and September.
  • The flower buds on azaleas must go through a cold period followed by a warm period in order to flower.

Years ago I wrote an illustrated article that explains “The Basics of Pruning.” The article is short, to the point, and informative. You will learn about what happens when we trim a plant and then you will have the ammunition that you need to become an expert on the subject.

Click Here To Read “Pruning As an Art Form, The Basics of Pruning.

Two years ago, Dekie and I pruned and shaped some large azaleas on the edge of our driveway. I wrote an article about it then. The picture at the beginning of this article shows the results of our azalea renovation.

Click Below to see the article on how it is done.

Prune Azaleas in May-June. Fertilize Azaleas, Avoid and Kill Poison Ivy

Azalea before pruning:

azalea before pruning

Not long ago the azalea pictured at the start of this article was all straggly and falling over. There were very few blooms.

Shaping Plants of All Sizes. Part one of a series

I was pruning a few bonsai trees for a client. This task allows plenty of time for pondering and I got to thinking about the number of ways I apply bonsai techniques to other pruning situations.

Pruning bonsai trees to maintain and enhance their shape

Pruning bonsai trees to maintain and enhance their shape

One of my first and most popular articles that I wrote some time ago is about “The Basics of Pruning”(click) which tells about ways in which the plant responds to different pruning actions such as cutting tips and removing side growth. Aside from the fact that I shape and maintain a lot of sculptured plants for clients, My wife Dekie and I enjoy plant shaping as a hobby. I periodically bring home old scraggly plants that nobody wants and we shape them up for our collection. We plan to use our collection for a decorative project in our back yard next spring. (the shoemaker’s children being barefoot applies here). Here’s a picture of Dekie working on a new acquisition:

Sweetie works on shaping a dwarf tree

Sweetie works on shaping a dwarf tree

Someone planted two Leyland cypress in our yard a number of years ago and they are too close together, too close to the property line, and a stupid choice for a small back yard. I was getting ready to take them out 6 years ago when someone told me that if you cut the top out of a Leyland cypress it would die. That didn’t sound right to me so I came home and cut the tops our of ours. That was six years ago. We’ve kept them pruned to the top of the neighbor’s eight foot fence. They ain’t died yet.

Shaping a Leyland cypress for strength, compactness, and size

Shaping a Leyland cypress for strength, compactness, and size

On one of my jobs we kept pruning a Hollywood juniper that was in a large pot. It finally got to the point that it needed to get out of the pot and in the ground so we put it in a place that needed a nice plant. I work on it about twice a year. We are working on turning this location into something nice. I will include that before this series is completed.

I've been pruning and shaping this Hollywood juniper for years

I’ve been pruning and shaping this Hollywood juniper for years

This dwarf cryptomeria has been in a put and used in a foundation planting for over three years. We will trim it this fall and it will begin a process of miniaturization.

A well shaped dwarf cryptomeria

A well shaped dwarf cryptomeria

In my work I really abhor the use of Leyland cypress and/or Bradford pear trees. They are over-used, space consuming, smelly, and problematic. They are famous for growing too rapidly and falling apart in storms. I am being kind here. I could say some bad things about these plants.
However, if these trees are shaped properly, they will serve well. I have told you above about the Leylands in my yard. Here is a Bradford pear that my friend Santos planted in his yard 15 years ago. He prunes and shapes it every year. I have seen this tree withstand snow storms that have torn other Bradford pears apart.

Shaping this Bradford pear has added strength and durability as well as beauty

Shaping this Bradford pear has added strength and durability as well as beauty

And today I’ll finish with a black pine that I plant years ago and have maintained faithfully. This is one of my favorites.

Japanese black pine. I've maintained it for ten years--don't know how old it was when I installed it.

Japanese black pine. I’ve maintained it for ten years–don’t know how old it was when I installed it.

Thanks for visiting Johntheplantman. As I have said, I am currently working on a full-color book on pruning techniques for ornamental plants. My wife and I are excited and we would love your suggestions and recommendations for what you would like to see in it. Leave a comment, if you please—John P. Schulz

Pruning and Shaping Techniques for Trees and Shrubs

Every year when the first cool front of October rolls in I get lots and lots of questions about pruning their landscape and house plants. For years I have enjoyed shaping plants while picturing what they will look like next year or after several years have passed.

This week I have gone into my daunting list of past articles on pruning to review. Here are a few of the links. I hope they help.

 

 

 

Tree forming-Landscaping from the inside out.

Using Bonsai techniques to prune and shape overgrown shrubs and trees in the landscape.

 

Pruning for Betty. Japanese Maples, Topiaries and Bonsai

I got a text message the other day saying that the Japanese maples needed pruning. I had been expecting this so I shifted my schedule around, sharpened my Felco pruning shears, grabbed my camera and headed out.

 

 

Pruning an Overgrown Topiary

I really enjoy creative pruning.

My friend Tommy called me the other day. It seems that we had planted a large yaupon holly tree in his front yard a number of years ago and I shaped it into a topiary form. Tommy has kept it pruned for a number of years but now he is getting too old to want to get on the ladder any more.  Notice the wording—not “too old to get on the ladder”, but “too old to want to get on the ladder.”

 

 

 

The basics of pruning–What Happens When We Prune a Plant

 

Pruning season is coming up. I wrote this article some time ago in answer to the many questions I receive about pruning. It’s really a very simple process.

Growing a plant is one thing.  Shaping plants well is an art form and adds another dimension to your plant growing experience.  Here is an article that tells you what happens when you prune.  This information applies to just about any kind of shrub or tree.

The basics of pruning–What Happens When We Prune a Plant

 

Pruning season is coming up. I wrote this article some time ago in answer to the many questions I receive about pruning. It’s really a very simple process.

Growing a plant is one thing.  Shaping plants well is an art form and adds another dimension to your plant growing experience.  Here is an article that tells you what happens when you prune.  This information applies to just about any kind of shrub or tree.

This jade plant has been worked on for several years.  Time for more pruning

This jade plant has been worked on for several years. Time for more pruning

I am using a jade plant for pictures because the buds show up well.  The jade tree is also really good for an indoor bonsai.

To start with, look at the tip of a stem and notice the small growth bud.  This is called an “apical bud”.

The apical bud

The apical bud

At the side of the stem, just where the leaf comes out, you will find a very small growth bud.   This is called the “lateral bud

New growth will come from the lateral bud

New growth will come from the lateral bud

Here’s how plant growth works.  The growth of the stem and buds is regulated by a group of hormones called “auxin compounds.”  The apical bud is dominant and it draws all of the auxins up past the lateral buds.  This enables the apical bud to develop and causes the lateral buds to remain semi dormant.

removing the apical bud

removing the apical bud

When the apical bud is removed by pruning, the lateral buds in turn become apical buds and start the elongation required for turning into a stem.  In a jade tree, the branching forms as two stalks as in the picture below.

This is how the new growth will come out after pruning

This is how the new growth will come out after pruning

Pruning helps the main trunks to develop and get bigger and stronger; this gives you a stronger and healthier plant.  If you remove the lower leaves and/or growth from the stems, the stems will turn into well defined trunks.  This is the principle behind bonsai, topiaries, and other shaped trees and shrubs.

remove lower leaves to enhance trunk formation

remove lower leaves to enhance trunk formation

I haven’t been there for a long, long time, but I once visited a monastery in Conyers, Georgia that specializes in bonsai.  The priest who was in charge said, “you should prune a tree so that a bird can fly through it.”  I have remembered that concept and I use it a lot as I shape such trees as Japanese maples (click here for an article on pruning Japanese maples).  Here is the picture of the jade tree after the pruning is finished.

All of the tips have been removed and it is time to grow it out.

All of the tips have been removed and it is time to grow it out.

One of my next articles will be “how to start your very own bonsai.”  Keep in touch.

Some rather entertaining adventures of johntheplantman may be found in the book “Requiem for a Redneck” by John P. Schulz. Try the Kindle version

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FOAJCGO

 

February Jobs For the Winter-Weary Gardener

If you’re knee-deep in snow can spring be far behind? The snow went away, the sun came out and we got busy. It’s time to get things done. Nelson Magee likes for his yaupon hollies to look good all the time. They were getting a bit shaggy.

Normally neatly kept yaupon holly needs attention in February

Normally neatly kept yaupon holly needs attention in February

We practice a modified version of “cloud pruning” in this yard and sometimes the growth gets pretty tight. This tightness keeps the light from entering the growth canopy which, in turn, forces all of the growth to the outside of the plant causing the inside stems to weaken. Every year or two I like to prune all the way to ugliness and open things up to let the light shine in. I guess that’s sort of what we need to do for our psyche as the end of winter approaches—Let some light shine in.

The yaupon holly is pruned in a manner that will allow light to the inside

The yaupon holly is pruned in a manner that will allow light to the inside

The pruning will grow out in a month or two as spring approaches, giving the plants the undulations and smooth curves that are so visually pleasing:

Cloud pruning on yaupon hollies will grow out to nicely shaped contours.

Cloud pruning on yaupon hollies will grow out to nicely shaped contours.

The two snows combined with zero degree weather have caused a bit of damage to the pretty loroetalum plants. Here’s a picture of the damaged plants. They get cut way back—again to let the light shine in. I scraped a bit of bark back from some of the lower trunks and everything is green instead of brown and mushy so the plants should come out all right.

Freeze damage on loropetalums. We need to cut them back so the light can shine in.

Freeze damage on loropetalums. We need to cut them back so the light can shine in.

If you haven’t pruned the Knockout roses they probably look like this, all strung out with dead leaves and dormant growth buds. Those buds need to be exposed. Pruning will help them to emerge when the time is right.

It's time to prune the knockout roses for shape and more blooms

It’s time to prune the knockout roses for shape and more blooms

When pruning the roses, I like to carefully reach in and cut just above a dormant bud. This gives strength and compactness to the plant. The more care I take, the more the job stays away from the bloody realm of self sacrifice.

Pruning the knockout rose. Be careful of the thorns!

Pruning the knockout rose. Be careful of the thorns!

Oh, yes—things to do in February—I need to finish up and make it to The Last Stop Gift Shop in Rome, Georgia for Dekie Hicks’ book signing (She happens to be my wonderful wife). Her book of poetry, “These for Me are Therapy” was published in January.

Dekie Hicks presents her recently published poetry book, "These for Me are Therapy"

Dekie Hicks presents her recently published poetry book, “These for Me are Therapy”

Here are some links that will help with your winter-time pruning projects

Deadheading and pruning hydrangeas—It says January, but February is all right, too

The basics of pruning—one of my most popular articles ever.

Pruning Knockout roses—This is more for summer time but the concept is good

 

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Late January or February—Time to Prune Boxwood and Liriope

I love boxwood. By and large they mind well. I appreciate that trait in a plant, but one does have to respect them. Boxwoods perform best when pruned in the early part of the year. That doesn’t mean that they must be pruned, mind you, but if you plan to prune them now would be the time.

I have been tending to this particular planting for more than twenty years. Last year we didn’t do any pruning—just let the hedge thicken up—but this year it was time for a good manicure. The planting is doing well.

A well-tended boxwood bordered courtyard. Picture taken after pruning on February 7

A well-tended boxwood bordered courtyard. Picture taken after pruning on February 7

Here is another view of this lovely courtyard

A second view of the boxwood-bordered courtyard after pruning.

A second view of the boxwood-bordered courtyard after pruning.

One of the main purposes of pruning the boxwood other than shaping them is to make “holes” to allow light to enter and to help form leaves on the inside of the plant canopy. Without this introduction of light the growth will become weak and droopy. Here you can see inside the plant. In a month or two the new growth will fill in the bare spots and the plant will be happy and healthy.

A second view of the boxwood-bordered courtyard after pruning.

A second view of the boxwood-bordered courtyard after pruning.

If you stand back and look at the completed pruning job, you will notice the holes but they won’t be offensive and will close in rapidly. This makes for a healthy plant.

Recently pruned boxwood showing "holes" to provide light for the inside growth

Recently pruned boxwood showing “holes” to provide light for the inside growth

While we are on the job and have the tools at hand, it is time to prune the hydrangeas. Click here for a previous article on pruning hydrangeas.

Hydrangea pruned first part of February

`Hydrangea pruned first part of February

Mondo grass (ophiopogon japonicus) and Liriope (in the south we refer to it as “monkey grass) enjoy a cutting back this time of year. As with the boxwoods, this allows light in to promote new growth. Here is an uncut mondo grass clump.

mondo grass (ophiopogon) winter growth unpruned

mondo grass (ophiopogon) winter growth unpruned

We have found that even though it makes a mess, a good weed eater is the best way to cut the mondo grass. I like to leave maybe two or three inches of the old growth sticking up. The same goes with liriope pictured below.

Liriope (aka 'monkey grass') cut back in February

Liriope (aka ‘monkey grass’) cut back in February

The job is done and everything looks good—but not as good as it will look by the end of March.

Boxwood topiary with mondo grass border pruned around the first of February

Boxwood topiary with mondo grass border pruned around the first of February

For lots of  other johntheplantman articles on pruning click here.

As usual, I would just love for you to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

Cloud Pruning—A Conceptual Approach to Shaping Plants

From last week’s article, we know that a concept is a collection of questions that haven’t been asked. Let’s ask a few…Julia Maloney who lives a bit south of Atlanta I think, asked me to direct her to some information about cloud pruning so that she could use this treatment on her overgrown boxwood. And before you ask, January and February are the best times of the year to prune boxwood in the south eastern U.S. Julia sent me a picture.

Some boxwoods and what looks to me like dwarf yaupons. How do we cloud prune them?

Some boxwoods and what looks to me like dwarf yaupons. How do we cloud prune them?

I started looking all over the web and then decided that cloud pruning directions were not as important as just the basic concept.  The first part of the concept would be developed by understanding just what happens when we prune something. One of my oldest and most popular posts is Pruning as an Art Form–The Basics of Pruning. I think this article will answer most of your preliminary questions if you are a pruning novice. After figuring out what happens during the pruning process, the next question to the cloud pruning concept will be, “what does cloud pruning look like?”

I’m not an expert on the subject but I am an admirer of Jake Hobson who lives in England and studies a bit in Japan. According to Jake, the Japanese call cloud pruning “Niwaki” and I think he made note of the fact that the word is becoming used as a verb as in, “I’m agonna niwaki that there row of plants.” I’ve taken the liberty of stealing a few pictures from Jake but I’m going to send him a lot of traffic so it’s ok. Here’s one of his pictures:

Cloud pruning picture by Jake Hobson showing beautiful abstract shrubbery shapes

Cloud pruning picture by Jake Hobson showing beautiful abstract shrubbery shapes

So, I assume that cloud pruning, as opposed to traditional or topiary pruning, is to turn the plant grouping into sweeping imitations of clouds. This, to me, is a really neat concept. I don’t see how you could mess up on something like this. You take pruning shears, hedge clippers, electric or gas motored hedge cutters, or even a saw in some cases and go to work. The idea is to get the basic shape but to go lower than you desire the finished art form to be when it grows out. Keep in mind that it is never “finished.”

Here’s an extreme example of a mix of topiary and cloud pruning at Chateau de Marqueyssac in Dordogne, France. (It’s an interesting garden to read about)

Château de Marqueyssac, A magnificent garden well pruned with topiaries and clouds

Château de Marqueyssac, A magnificent garden well pruned with topiaries and clouds

Back to cloud pruning the Maloneys’ boxwoods which is what this article is about. I think the next step is something that I routinely do when renovating a planting and that is to draw a pruning diagram. This diagram may be complex or simple, to scale or free hand—whatever, its purpose is to enhance the pruning concept with a visual.  A freehand diagram would look like this

A free hand diagram will organize the cloud pruning shapes in your mind.  Also good for any hired help.

A free hand diagram will organize the cloud pruning shapes in your mind. Also good for any hired help.

Take the diagram and your new found knowledge of pruning and go for it. Cut and cut and stand back to check your progress periodically. Check it often and move in short steps because you can cut it off, but if you cut too much you will have to wait for it to grow back on.  Remember, you will never be finished and if you get in a hurry and mess up there’s always next year or the year after to rectify things.

I found an article of Jake Hobson’s in which he does the beginning pruning on an over grown boxwood. Here are the pictures or the link is Here

Jake Hobson--before pruning over grown boxwood

Jake Hobson–before pruning over grown boxwood

Jake Hobson. Picture of after cloud pruning over grown boxwood

Jake Hobson. Picture of after cloud pruning over grown boxwood

For a couple of other articles of Jake Hobson’s, Click HERE and HERE. Be careful wandering about Jake’s blog, he’s addictive.

And there’s your cloud pruning concept. Now get your cutters and other implements of destruction and go to work.  Use the comments section of the blog to send me a comment and/or pictures on how your project comes out.

Here’s one last picture of Jake’s that I really loved.

For lots of johntheplantman articles on pruning click here

As Usual, I would just love for you to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free app to load Kindle books on your iPhone. Is that cool or what?

What Happened to My Pretty Christmas Plant?

For the past few years, at Christmas time, The Home Depot here in Rome, Georgia (and I assume elsewhere) has been stocking some impressive Christmas plants. These come in the form of well-grown and healthy rosemary and “Stone pine” plants. Here’s a picture of the display

Well grown plants with a Christmas tree shape on sale for the season

Well grown plants with a Christmas tree shape on sale for the season

To my way of thinking, these plants are a bargain in that they will perform well in outdoor planters for the winter, they will give a Christmas feeling to their location, and with care, they will live for years.  But…But…They will not maintain their shape for years.

The plants that we bought at Home Depot have been carefully shaped as they grew so that they would end up looking like a Christmas tree. This doesn’t mean that they will always grow in that shape—that is, not unless they are properly pruned to maintain their shape. The process uses the principles developed in the growing of Bonsai plants.

A few weeks ago, one of my clients—I’ll call her Susan because that’s her name—asked me, “What happened to my Christmas plants that I put on the front porch last year?” I went around front to check them out and this is what I saw:

After a year the stone pine had lost it's Christmas tree shape and had grown out of bounds

After a year the stone pine had lost it’s Christmas tree shape and had grown out of bounds

Here’s the analysis: 1.The dead that you see in the tree is a natural replacement of needles that we see in any pine tree. 2. the wild looking growth coming from the top of the plant is the natural growth of the plant. I told Susan that with cleaning and pruning the trees could be brought back into shape within a year but with Christmas approaching she made me a gift of them. I’m going to have fun with those trees. I’ll guarantee it.

I was given a couple more of those trees about three years ago and I stuck them in the back of my “plant hospital”. I had gotten one of them out some time around the first of September after three years of total neglect. The stone pine was about five feet tall and strung out all over the place. I’m going to make a wild topiary out of it, so I cut the tips and cleaned it up. A month and a half later the tips look like this

New growth coming out short and pretty a month or so after cutting

New growth coming out short and pretty a month or so after cutting

I’m sure that the stone pine has to be one of the most bonsai-friendly plants ever and I’m going to work on my collection and report back next Christmas.

In the meantime, if you’re interested, your assignment is to read the following suggested articles on pruning and start your own plant-shaping experiment. What plant will you start with? Let me know

Turn overgrown plants into nice topiaries

Pruning For Betty, Japanese Maples, Topiaries, and Bonsai

Pruning an overgrown topiary

And one of my most popular articles:

Pruning as an Art Form—The Basics of Pruning

 

Thanks for visiting John the Plant Man. Remember the next time you want a good read you need to try “REQUIEM FOR A REDNECK”, a kindle ebook from Amazon that features John the plant man with his Georgia mountain friends. It’s quite the adventure. Check it out, buy a copy, and tell ALL your friends about it.

Turn Overgrown Front Door Plants Into Nice Topiaries

Sylvia had asked me to deal with the plants by her front entrance some time ago. It seems that the blue point junipers were getting a bit out of hand. I like blue points but they take either a lot of room or a lot of care. There’s definitely not much room in this yard.

Overgrown junipers at the front entrance need tending to. (blue point juniper)

Overgrown junipers at the front entrance need tending to. (blue point juniper)

Randy and Sylvia live on Pear Street which is a tightly-built and tightly-planted gated community. The plantings are nice looking at the moment but, in my opinion, there are way too many plants for the area. I think that sooner or later someone will have to either shape or move a lot of the plant material. I definitely question the planting of a number of Bradford Pears.

Bradford Pear in the wrong place

Bradford Pear in the wrong place

Back to the job at hand, we discussed the design that we were looking for. I had told Sylvia that I could only do the job when I “felt like it” and was in the proper mood. The time was right. We decided that the tops of the pruned plants would be in line with the top of the brick pillar supports. I set my pruning shears down and stepped back to study it.

Determine where the top of the finished topiary will be in reference to the front porch.

Determine where the top of the finished topiary will be in reference to the front porch.

The first cut was major, after due deliberation we just went in and whacked off the top of the tree.

Start the topiary project  by cutting the top of the tree to the desired height.

Start the topiary project by cutting the top of the tree to the desired height.

After the top was gone, I chose a second level that was approximately one third of the distance from the top to the bottom. I started shaping to this part of the concept with my hand pruners. I love the Golden Mean.

Trim the tree to basic shape with hand pruners

Trim the tree to basic shape with hand pruners

We continued cutting until the basic shape became clear.

The topiaries begin to take shape.

The topiaries begin to take shape.

It was time to smooth up the cuts and to “polish” the topiary. The motor pruners are a perfect tool for the job. I always try to keep the blades well-sharpened.

polishing the topiary with motorized hedge trimmers.

polishing the topiary with motorized hedge trimmers.polishing the topiary with motorized hedge trimmers.

I stepped back to check on the progress. A little more tipping and touching up would finish the job. The client was happy and that is important to me.

The finished topiary project. The trees will now need to grow in over time.

The finished topiary project. The trees will now need to grow in over time.

The plants will need easy trimming two or three times a year. They should look really nice by this time next year. We are basically using a bonsai process to shape them and to keep them shaped. Try it on one of your plants—it’s fun.

*************************

You may enjoy the article on pruning an overgrown bonsai

And here’s another article on tree-forming, landscaping from the inside-out.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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Now available as an ebook at Amazon–read it on your Kindle

Requiem for a Redneck--A novel by John P. Schulz

Check out more adventures of John the plant man in this hilarious yet sensitive award winning novel

Grown Man Now

Billy Schulz, Grown Man Now

My favorite blog by Dr. Jane Schulz and Billy

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