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.

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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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Front Door Plants—Starting a Topiary Project

I’ve been working with plants professionally for 35 years or so. During that time, one of the most requested tasks has been to “find me something distinctive to go on the front porch (or by the door).”  Usually it takes a lot of time and searching to find just the right plant for the job. It dawned on me several years ago that someone should be growing specially shaped plants for the front porch. It also dawned on me a shorter while back that that “someone” should be me; after all, I’ve been working on the concept for years.

Topiaries in containers are wonderful accents for entry ways.

Topiaries in containers are wonderful accents for entry ways.

I have access to a small and private piece of land in the country that can be used to grow the plants. While I was working on preparing the site I decided to go looking at plant material for the project. I ended up purchasing a hundred plants to start with. The grower agreed to keep the plants until I had the site ready for them and I brought two of the plants home with me to show to my wife, Dekie, and to play with. One of the varieties is cryptomeria ‘Black Prince’. It looked like this:

Cryptomeria 'Black Prince' ready to be started as a topiary

Cryptomeria ‘Black Prince’ ready to be started as a topiary

The objective is to grow specimen plants that will finish out somewhere between three and five feet in height.  I am thinking that we will grow them in matched pairs because—well, because a door has a right side and a left side. At any rate, we’ll experiment with that as we go.

Dekie and I spent a fun afternoon studying one of the plants and figuring out just how we would approach the shaping. To start with, I isolated three main stems (or trunks).

Selecting the main stems or trunks for the topiary project.

Selecting the main stems or trunks for the topiary project.

The “apical bud” is the growth bud at the very end of each of the tips. I’m not going to touch this right now. If this apical bud is allowed to grow, it will give me the height that I need. I will watch as this bud develops and elongates, protecting it until I feel that it is at the proper height for cutting.

The apical bud on the cryptomeria will be allowed to grow taller

The apical bud on the cryptomeria will be allowed to grow taller

I carefully trim the sides of the three trunks that I selected. I will cut the “lateral buds” (or sideways growth) to encourage the bottom growth on these trunks to branch out and become lush and full. This means that I will be shaping the bottom sections of the plants while they grow in height. When the two selected sideways trunks grow out to where I want them to be I will cut the tips and begin the shaping process.

Trimming the side or lateral growth on cryptomeria to induce branching.

Trimming the side or lateral growth on cryptomeria to induce branching.

Over the years I have developed a potting mix using compost, finely ground bark, peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. I add a bit of lime to adjust the pH and I lace it with just the right dusting of a time-release fertilizer. I think that as the topiary project proceeds I will finish the plants off in five and/or seven gallon containers. For the trial plant, I just planted it in a three-gallon pot to see what happens.

re potting the tree into a three gallon pot for growing on.

re potting the tree into a three gallon pot for growing on.

Here’s a picture of the very first plant for the “Front Door Plants” project. I guess I need to get a bit more professional on my photographic backgrounds—or, I could tell you that I really wanted to show the other side of the fence.  At any rate, the plant is two feet high from the top of the root ball and the side growth has been carefully trimmed. I’m going to set up a special file on the blog and update it periodically. Let’s watch the project develop. I think it will take two to three years to reach the picture I have in my mind. After that, who knows?

Cryptomeria 'Black Prince' topiary started 7/24/13. Approximate height from top of root ball 2 feet.

Cryptomeria ‘Black Prince’ topiary started 7/24/13. Approximate height from top of root ball 2 feet.

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You may wish to check out my article on The Basics of Pruning.

An article on pruning an overgrown topiary

And another article on Foundation Planting With Containers

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?

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.

Betty has been a special friend and client for a number of years. She has also been a landscaping mentor, teaching me to adhere to rather high standards of design, installation, and maintenance. I have been pruning her collection of Japanese maples for years—she must have twenty or more of them—and to my knowledge, no one but me has ever pruned any of them.

I had decided to do an article comprised of before and after pictures of the maples but things changed. Anyway, here is one of the before pictures.

I was thinking, "I've pruned this tree every year for a long time."

I was thinking, “I’ve pruned this tree every year for a long time.”

I worked on opening up the plant to show the lovely trunk and to allow light inside. When I got in there I found the rock work and mondo grass that we had planted years ago when the tree was small.

dissectum japanese maple after pruning

dissectum japanese maple after pruning

I’m not a purist, so if I’m wrong, tell me, but I think there are two main classes of Japanese maples—dissectum and palmatum.  They are named for the shape of their leaves.  Here is the leaf pattern of the dissectum.

This shows the leaf configuration for the "dissectum" Japanese maple

This shows the leaf configuration for the “dissectum” Japanese maple

The dissectum maples seem to be more weeping and not as tall in growth patterns. These plants are usually produced by grafting a piece of a dissectum plant onto the root stock of a palmatum plant. There are so many varieties of the Japanese maple that keeping up with their names is quite a task.  The palmatum plant usually grows taller and more like a regular maple tree except that the leaves are remarkably smaller and the trees seem to stay much smaller:

This is the leaf profile of a "palmatum" Japanese maple

This is the leaf profile of a “palmatum” Japanese maple

Pictured below is a palmatum maple that was pruned for years to encourage shape in the “finished tree. I’m not going to prune this tree any more unless it is to remove some sucker growth from the bottom or to remove a few low hanging pieces that might develop.

After years of shaping I'm going to back off on pruning this beautiful palmatum

After years of shaping I’m going to back off on pruning this beautiful palmatum

I was standing there admiring the large palmatum Japanese maple and trying to remember just how long ago it was that we first started working on it. That was when Betty came out and, with a big grin, handed me some pictures. One of them was of me pruning this tree in 1991.  Let’s see, 2013, subtract 1991—Wow, that’s 22 years! Check it out:

John the plant man pruning the palmatum tree in 1991

John the plant man pruning the palmatum tree in 1991

Well, this started me to thinking about some of the other pruning that I had done over the years. I decided to look around. Here’s a picture also dated 1991 showing me pruning a cameocyperus ‘Boulevard’ which is a wonderfully soft looking evergreen that is a bit difficult to grow.  I don’t know a common name for it other than “Boulevard.”

John Schulz starting a bonsai of a cameocyperus "boulevard" in 1991

John Schulz starting a bonsai of a cameocyperus “boulevard” in 1991

I took a nice picture of a bonsai collection arranged on an outside table. The tall plant in the center is the exact same Boulevard from the picture in 1991. To quote John Hartford, “My, oh my, how the time goes by.”

The Boulevard bonsai is the tall one in the center.

The Boulevard bonsai is the tall one in the center.

There are a lot of plants in this yard that are remarkable. I will include a couple that I enjoy. The first is a Japanese black pine that I have been pruning for probably ten years. This small garden shows off with a ground cover of a running sedum that I like quite a bit. It is bordered with nice rocks that hardly show any more.

Japanese pine ornamental topiary with sedum ground cover

Japanese pine ornamental topiary with sedum ground cover

The plant below is called a Torulosa juniper or a Hollywood juniper.  Its natural growth is sort of helter skelter and wild. We had this plant in a large urn for years and then decided to move it to the yard.

Hollywood Juniper or "torulosa" juniper pruned to topiary.

Hollywood Juniper or “torulosa” juniper pruned to topiary.

Thanks for visiting John The Plant Man.  Share it with your friends

Here are some related articles:

Pruning Japanese Maples. A how to do it article. Click here

Foundation planting with containers—another Betty project. Click here

And fixing a drainage problem with an ikebana flair. Click here

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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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.”

At any rate, Tommy called and said that his favorite tree was getting out of hand.  Here’s what I drove up to:

This tree is carefully placed as an accent and it truly needs a bit of shaping

This tree is carefully placed as an accent and it truly needs a bit of shaping

We studied it for quite a while and then went after it with hand clippers and motor pruners.  Here’s how the project ended up.  Tommy was happy.

A tree yaupon pruned into a topiary form.  Anyone want to go visit Whoville?

A tree yaupon pruned into a topiary form. Anyone want to go visit Whoville?

I hope we passed the audition.

Here are some other articles on pruning that you may enjoy. Click on the title.

Pruning a Japanese Maple

Pruning as an art form: The Basics of Pruning

Tree forming, shaping a bush into a tree: Tree Forming in Landscaping

Bonsai:  How to Start a Bonsai

Bonsai Maintenance:  Pruning an Overgrown Bonsai

Thanks for visiting John the Plant Man

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?

Pruning a Japanese maple

Pruning a Japanese Maple

Japanese maples are special and as such they require special treatment.  They are such cute little trees when we plant them but after a while they get much larger.  It is a matter of personal preference as to whether the tree looks better in its natural state or whether it is more desirable to prune it.  I am generally of the latter opinion. Using modified bonsai techniques on a Japanese maple in its developmental stages makes for a beautiful, well shaped specimen when the tree gets larger. Here is a picture of a tree that I have neglected for a while:

Japanese maple needs shape and definition.  Time to prune

Japanese maple needs shape and definition. Time to prune

A wise old bonsai expert told me long ago that, “One should prune and shape the tree so that a bird can fly through it.” I try to follow that advice and I find it to be helpful for the overall long term health of the tree as well as from a design standpoint.

Looking at a Japanese maple trunk

I want to see the trunk

The trunk of the maple tree is usually very nice and I would like to see a bit of it on this specimen.  I look into the canopy and study the tree to see what should be removed.  All cuts are made carefully and followed by standing back to study the next move.

There are some larger limbs that I will remove to open up the tree canopy. These cuts are made one at the time.

Removing limbs to open up the canopy of the Japanese maple and to accentuate the trunk

Removing limbs to open up the canopy of the Japanese maple and to accentuate the trunk

A lot of small new growth needs to be removed.  Removing these will further open up the view of the trunk and the path of the bird.  It will also allow the trunk to gain strength by not having to share nutrients with the weak new growth.  Some of these twigs will be cut off and others will be just snapped off with a downward jerk.

removing small growth inside the maple canopy

removing small growth inside the maple canopy

When the thinning process is completed, I go through and carefully cut tips from the outer reaches of the tree.  This will encourage branching and a degree of miniaturization.  At this point the job is finished.

The pruned Japanese maple looks like this:

A well pruned Japanese maple

A well pruned Japanese maple

I have a story that lets you know when the job is finished.

My good friend and client, Betty, has about twenty Japanese maples in her yard.  I have been pruning and shaping them over a period of twenty five years.  One time I was shaping one of the trees and a visitor asked, “How do you know when you have cut enough?”

I thought for a few moments and answered, “I keep cutting until Betty is rolling in the driveway screaming. Then I know I have cut enough.”

Here are some related articles:

Creating a topiary,https://johntheplantman.com/2012/02/26/plant-in-the-wrong-place-make-a-topiary/

Tree forming, https://johntheplantman.com/2011/08/14/tree-forming-landscaping-from-the-inside-out/

The basics of pruning https://johntheplantman.com/2010/01/09/pruning-as-an-art-form-the-basics/

Want me to prune your Japanese maple? Contact me at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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?

Foundation planting with containers

 

Today’s article is about what I call a “Barbie Doll Garden.”  Here’s the story:

One of my favorite clients for a number of years is very easy to please as long as she gets ­exactly what she wants.  The problem is that I sometimes have to get really creative to reach that goal.  I spent a lot of time trying to get the entrance planting just right but she kept asking me to move this or change that.  Finally, in order to make the moving and changing easier, I got some nice clay pots and created a garden that can be moved around and changed easily.  I got tickled when I figured out that it was kind of like playing with a doll house and being able to change things easily and at will.

Containers in foundation planting for easy maintenance and change
Containers in foundation planting for easy maintenance and change

The planting is divided into three sections.  In this one by the drive, we installed a fieldstone border and added pea gravel for the “floor.  We set containers where we thought they should go and planted a combination of evergreen and flowering plants. The plants have been pruned to shape using bonsai techniques. Whenever Betty decides that something doesn’t look right, we can move it, prune it, or change the plant out for another one.  The next picture shows the end of the planting area which is framed with an arborvitae in a cast iron urn

containers in the foundation planting. Not the urn framing the end.
containers in the foundation planting. Note the urn framing the end.

The second section takes in a porch by the drive and curves around the corner to the main entrance.  I like the way pots of impatiens and caladiums flash their colors from an area behind the autumn ferns. We are able to move the accent plants around to get the placement just right.  As they say on the infomercials, “It really, really works.”

Containers of impatiens behind autumn ferns
Containers of impatiens behind autumn ferns

Permanent plantings of well shaped lorapetalum and dwarf nandina give a background for a bed of containers on the house side of the walkway to the front entrance.  We chose a combination of variegated cypress, dwarf procumbens juniper, dwarf yaupon, and frost proof gardenia for the perennial evergreens.  The bed is bordered with rock and has been filled and leveled with compost and cypress mulch for stability and levelling

cypress chips, rocks, and containers with shaped evergreens
cypress chips, rocks, and containers with shaped evergreens

We also left room to plant flowers.  I love the dragon wing begonias.  These are the most dependable begonias I ever worked with.  They can be used as bedding plants or in containers.  The begonias are replaced with pansies for the winter garden.

Bedding plants form a nice frame for the containerized evergreens.  I love the gardenia bloom
Bedding plants form a nice frame for the containerized evergreens. I love the gardenia bloom

To add balance for the planting at the end of the walkway, we added one more small bed around the cast iron horse head.  I selected three upright junipers and pruned them into an interesting topiary.  These plants will never be finished.  I have a picture in my head of each of the limbs having a flat top with rounded edges.  The final picture will take years.

Three carefully shaped topiaries in containers anchor the end of the stone walkway
Three carefully shaped topiaries in containers anchor the end of the stone walkway

To add color, I found a large dragon wing hanging basket and planted it in this terra cotta pot.  The plant had been root bound in the basket and it almost exploded when it received room for its roots and a goodly dose of liquid fertilizer.

Dragon wing begonia and procumbuns juniper in separate containers
Dragon wing begonia and procumbuns juniper in separate containers

I really like this garden.  I like the way it looks and I like the fact that when something doesn’t look right I can move it or easily change it.  When some of the plants become root bound or out of shape I can plant them in the yard and replace them with new ones.  I am planning to renovate my new wife’s back yard and I think that we will use the “Barbie Doll” concept for at least one or two sections. I love the aspect of being able to modify the scope and balance by easily moving or changing a plant here or there.

This is also a wonderful concept for someone who finds instant gratification a bit on the slow side.

Other articles relating to this topic:

How to start a bonsai

The basics of pruning

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?

If you would like a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist, in your yard,Please contact me by email

Plant in the wrong place? Make a topiary

Mabel and I were talking about improvements that needed to be made in her beautiful back yard garden. She stopped and pointed, “John, that pretty cedar tree is in exactly the wrong place next to the walkway. I hate to say it, but I guess we need to take it out.”

Turn a small tree into a topiary. Study the tree before starting

Turn a small tree into a topiary. Study the tree before starting

I agreed that it was, indeed, a pretty little tree and we thought about it for a while. Finally, I said, “why don’t we turn a liability into an asset? Let’s make it a topiary.”   We decided that that would be a good idea and that we had nothing to lose. I studied the tree for a while and then made a very deliberate cut—taking off the top.

After studying the topiary project, cut the top out of the plant.

After studying the topiary project, cut the top out of the plant.

The next step was to carefully round the top out so that I could get an idea what the final shape would be.

cut the tips to round off the top of the topiary

cut the tips to round off the top of the topiary

I decided that the tree would make a nice two tiered topiary and then began cutting the lower limbs between what would be the upper and the lower levels of the finished product.

cut the lower limbs to form the lower tier of the topiary

cut the lower limbs to form the lower tier of the topiary

The next picture shows where to trim the tips of the limbs. When the tips are cut to shape, they will branch out and thicken up. This will cause the tier, with time, to turn into a full, well shaped mass of green. The cuts were made right above the thumbnail in the picture.

Trim the ends of the stems to round out the topiary and cause it to branch and thicken

Trim the ends of the stems to round out the topiary and cause it to branch and thicken

With a well-sharpened pair of shears, I patiently cut every tip, shaping as I went. I was looking first at the shape as I cut and secondly, with a picture in my head at the shape that the project would turn into after a year or so.

Cutting the tips from the new topiary

Cutting the tips from the new topiary

Here’s the project finished for the time being. As with any pruning or shaping project, it will never be finished.

The topiary project will never be finished, but here's a good start

The topiary project will never be finished, but here’s a good start

Further maintenance on the topiary will be to look at it as it grows and to cut the new growth as it grows out of bounds. Patience and meditation are required.

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?

A Privacy Screen with Arizona Cypress and Knockout Rose

What happens if you don’t prune?

I write a lot of articles about pruning and actually the articles on pruning Knockout Roses are the most popular ones on my blog site. One of my rules on landscape design is to plant so that the project will look finished in five years. Today, I visited a site that I had planted about that long ago and I thought I would share.

I love the way the rose grew in. I parked my white Dodge minivan behind it to give an idea of scale. This rose has never been pruned

privacy screen with Knockout rose and Arizona Cypress

privacy screen with Knockout rose and Arizona Cypress

I had been asked to design a small privacy screen that would not be just a row of plants. I studied on the problem and decided that I would use a juxtaposition of textures, colors, and sizes in an irregular pattern.

I chose one of my favorites—Arizona cypress for the blue tint in the winter time, Knockout rose for the summer bloom, and a semi dwarf crape myrtle that would give shade for the summer and allow the sun to shine through in the winter.

The design turned out to be a good one. The plants were planted and never pruned. Actually, other than growing them in the first year, they were never watered. The plants performed well and survived a couple of droughts.

The Knockout rose was in full bloom in mid-November even after two periods of heavy frost. It is approximately ten feet high and eight feet across.

Large Knockout rose--never pruned

Large Knockout rose–never pruned

The crape myrtle has dropped almost all of its leaves, but you may still see the effects of its screening in the summertime.

Crape myrtle for shade in summer and light in winter

Crape myrtle for shade in summer and light in winter

And, here’s a view from another window showing the cypress, rose, and an arborvitae.

cypress, arborvitae, and rose for privacy screen

cypress, arborvitae, and rose for privacy screen

Nest summer, I may prune the back side of the rose away from the Arizona cypress. But, then again, I may not.

 *****These articles are brought to you by the author of Requiem for a Redneck

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?

 

Would you like to have a consultation with John Schulz, Landscape Artist in your yard in NW Georgia? Contact me by email:  wherdepony@bellsouth.net

Tree forming-Landscaping from the inside out.

 

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

 I have always thought that a good landscape design should provide pleasing views from the inside out as well as just from the outside. A good landscape garden is a four dimensional “sculpture” that has height, depth, and width, but also has the elements of being viewed from inside. Another dimension has to do with the changing of the landscape sculpture with time.

 I have been studying two arborvitaes at the house on the mountain. They were cute little things when someone planted them there but over the years they had grown and were now blocking not only the pathway, but also the inside view of the garden from the window. I cut the tops out of the trees last year and continued studying. The arborvitaes were also inhibiting the growth and development of the Otto Luyken laurels at the base of the planting. Our choice was to either take out the trees or find another way to solve the problem. I chose “tree forming” Here are a couple of pictures of the initial problem: (I’ll start by showing the “before pics and finish the article with the “after” ones)

Overgrown arborvitae needs pruning because it blocks the view from inside

Overgrown arborvitae needs pruning because it blocks the view from inside

From the outside, one can see that the arborvitaes were taking over the walkway and the laurels. I next took the following pictures of the view from the inside:

view from inside blocked by overgrown shrubbery

view from inside blocked by overgrown shrubbery

The trees, including a large crape myrtle on the other side of the walkway were blocking the view of the distant mountain, and the arborvitae was blocking the side view of the flower beds.

can't see the flowers for the trees

can’t see the flowers for the trees

We started by cutting the lower limbs from the overgrown shrub, working our way up. One should proceed slowly with this because it is always possible to cut more limbs but not to put them back on.

begin the tree forming processs by cutting limbs from the bottom up

begin the tree forming processs by cutting limbs from the bottom up

The best way to get a good job in tree forming is to cut a little and then stand back and study the situation.

While pruning, stand back periodically to study the project

While pruning, stand back periodically to study the project

The plant now looks more like a tree. It no longer shades out the laurels and the view of the walkway. In a few months, we will trim the top to start the process of shaping it while it grows. I can envision it providing a canopy over the laurels and part of the walkway. If we keep the top cut, it will bush out and do just as the picture in my head dictates. We did the same to the arborvitae on the other side of the window.

turning a bush into a tree makes quite a difference

turning a bush into a tree makes quite a difference

We did some major surgery on a crape myrtle on the other side of the walk way that was also blocking the view and then we studied an overgrown yaupon tree further down the walkway.

We also need to shape up this yaupon holly tree, "before" picture

We also need to shape up this yaupon holly tree, “before” picture

When we finished shaping the yaupon tree, it looked like this:

Yaupon holly tree pruned to perfection

Yaupon holly tree pruned to perfection

The pruning had opened up the view of the walkway and made it much more open and pleasant.

The pruning process has opened up the view of the rock walkway and enhanced the comfort of walking through it.

The pruning process has opened up the view of the rock walkway and enhanced the comfort of walking through it.

It was now time to check out the “new view” from the inside of the house. Notice how we opened up the mountain vista from the big front window

The pruning has opened up the view of the mountain from the living room

The pruning has opened up the view of the mountain from the living room

And we can now see through the arborvitae to enjoy the flower beds on the walkway.

Now we can see the flower beds from inside the living room. It lets in a lot more light, too.

Now we can see the flower beds from inside the living room. It lets in a lot more light, too.

Keep in mind that you can use this tree form pruning  process on all sorts of trees and bushes. It really adds elegance to your landscape garden.

*******Related articles:

Pruning as an art form, the basics of pruning

Pruning and shaping an overgrown bonsai tree

How to start a bonsai

Renovating an overgrown landscape, part one

Renovating an overgrown landscape, part two

If you would like to have a landscaping consultation with John Schulz in the north Georgia area, you may send an email to, wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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

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?

How to prune and reshape an overgrown bonsai tree

How to prune and reshape an overgrown bonsai tree

 I started a bonsai for Micky about twelve years ago by cutting up a dwarf procumbens juniper and potting it in a clay saucer. I think the last time I pruned it was about five years ago. It was one of those things I kept meaning to get around to and didn’t.  So, the other day, armed with my pruning shears, a pair of scissors, and a cup of Micky’s good coffee, I tackled the job. Here’s what the plant looked like:

neglected bonsai tree needs pruning

neglected bonsai tree needs pruning

The first step is to look inside and see what the trunk looks like. I was pleased to see that the lower portion of this trunk was covered with moss.  I looked for unwanted growth and dead stuff. I found it, too.

Study the trunk of the bonsai before pruning

Study the trunk of the bonsai before pruning

The only tools I needed were a pair of pruning shears for the woody parts and a pair of scissors to trim the soft growth.

necessary tools for pruning the bonsai tree

necessary tools for pruning the bonsai tree

It is important to keep unwanted side shoots off of the trunk. I spent some time studying and cutting any growth that wasn’t supposed to be there. Taking away this growth will help with trunk development and maintain the “theme” of the plant.

cutting unwanted side growth from the bonsai trunk

cutting unwanted side growth from the bonsai trunk

I used the scissors to trim the growth tips. This will encourage branching and dwarfing as the plant grows. If you need to know what happens to a plant after pruning, I will place a link on the basics of pruning at the bottom of this article.

trimming the tips of a juniper bonsai tree

trimming the tips of a juniper bonsai tree

It takes time and patience to clean the trunks properly. There were all sorts of unwanted stems and little dead thingies that needed to be removed.

Cleaning the bonsai tree trunk

Cleaning the bonsai tree trunk

As I proceeded, I found myself alternating between working on the lower trunks and the green “heads” at the top. Here is a section of the plant before trimming

Bonsai top growth before trimming

Bonsai top growth before trimming

And here is the same section after trimming:

same section of bonsai after trimming

same section of bonsai after trimming

A number of years ago, a spiritual bonsai expert who I then perceived as very old told me, “You must prune the tree so that a bird can fly through it.”  I have always remembered that and the advice has served me well. The plant was looking good, and I tried to keep turning it, viewing it from any possible angle and cutting and trimming anything that didn’t belong.

Examining the plant from all sides to find places I missed

Examining the plant from all sides to find places I missed

The thing I like most about a job like this is that, in order to do it properly, I have to leave all of the cares and pressures of the world behind and move into another world, becoming, as it were, a “little elf man” who carefully and patiently cares for a tree in his world. As I work on the bonsai tree, it becomes, in my mind, as big as a giant oak. To quote Billy Joel, “You may be right, I may be crazy. But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.”  Anyway, the bonsai came out looking rather nice and I had a good time. Here’s the finished project:

The bonsai trimming is finished--for now....

The bonsai trimming is finished–for now….

 

Here’s an article on how to start your own bonsai

Another article, “Pruning as an art form-the basics”

 Would you like a consultation with johntheplantman in your yard? Contact John Schulz BY EMAIL

 These articles are brought to you by John P. Schulz, author of the novel, Requiem for a Redneck .

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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