Category Archives: Pruning

Pruning art

I found this on Jake Hobson’s blog and have been holding onto it for a little while.  Jake says “this is the most amazing yew tree I have ever seen”, and I would have to agree with him.  This tree is pruned once a year by an 82 year old who sets aside most of the month of August for the task.  This is absolutely amazing!!

If pruning is you’re idea of fun then check out Jake’s webpage to find the finest pruning tools and ladders available.


Filed under Pruning, Topiary

Pearl Fryar 2

I posted about Pearl Fryar early on in the history of this blog.  Well I was very excited to get the chance to meet him today.  He is here at the ANLA Management Clinic as tomorrow’s keynote speaker.  Here was a man with no training in Horticulture of Design and he was surrounded by a group of industry leaders all clamoring to get some face time with his man.  He seemed to take it all in stride and wasn’t daunted at all.  Pearl has adjusted well to his new found fame but still maintains a humbleness that so many people with new found fame lose.  I can’t wait to hear him speak tomorrow.  If you haven’t seen it you have to order and watch A Man named Pearl which you can buy on his webpage linked above.

Topiary is a dying art that has gone out of vogue and is just starting to make a comeback; here is a man of humble beginnings that is taking an art form formerly reserved for the wealthy and helping to bring this back into the spotlight.  How cool is all of this!  Pearl has broken through racial, economic, social and horticultural molds and made an impact on all of these.  He is a man to be admired

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Filed under Pearl Fryar, Pruning, Topiary

Wethersfield Garden

I pulled these pictures a few years ago and can’t even remember where they are from.  I love this; the concept of trimming a weeping Beech(Fagus sylvatica) into a cylinder blows my mind as to how cool this is.  I find it hard to work a weeping tree into a formal garden sometimes but this must be the solution.  Such an interesting winter texture contained.   I really appreciate the cleanness of all the lines here.


Filed under Pruning, Wethersfield Estate

The Gardens of Eyrignac

When do I get to take my trip to France?  There are so many amazing gardens that I am dying to see.  Eyrignac is at the very top of my list.  I found this great video I wanted to share with you.  You can find their web site HERE.


Filed under Eyrignac, Hedging, Pruning

The Dying Arts of Pleaching and Pollarding

Arborists prepare to cringe.  I am a huge fan of the effects created by two pruning techniques, pleaching and pollarding.  Both of these techniques are used widely in Europe; but even there I sense there relevance is seemingly fading.  For me they combine two of the most essential garden tenants I know of, form and sculpture.

Pleaching is the act of pruning the canopy of a tree up and providing a consistent height while also containing the growth on the sides and top of the plant.  This is often done with single stem trees but can also be done with multi-stem plants(see my last posting on the Ware’s garden, the trees against the wall are pleached Carpinus betulus fastigiata).  The results are marvelous.  Perfect for creating a screen or accentuating a site line with and allee.

pleached allee


Pollarding is seen even less often.  It is a much more difficult technique to properly perform.  Basically what you are doing is constraining the height and ultimate size of a tree.  I would say this all came about when someone planted a tree that began to get much to large for the space where it was installed.  In an attempt to keep the tree in check they started pruning away.  The results are a tree that is kept much smaller that its natural tendencies would allow.  As you can see in the picture the results with foliage in place are great; but the real sculptural presence comes into play when the leaves drop and you are left with the knobby clubs at the end of the branches.  So lets remember to look to our Garden Design History for ideas and inspiration and not forget the techniques used in the past.






Filed under Garden History, Pruning

Taxus Pruning as an expression

I found these pictures on the web site of a company in the UK called Knives Out run by Nicky Fraser.  Her take on pruning is absolutely amazing.  These are some pictures of a hegdge they have renovated.  According to Nicky this is the fourth trimming that they have done on these Taxus and it becomes more refined and changes a little bit each time they sink their shears into it.  If would recommend you have a look at their web page to see even more of the amazing work they do; you can fine them on the web here.yew hedge 3

yew hedge 2

yew hedge

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Filed under Pruning

Pruning your Boxwood and Taxus

Now is a great time for you to think about trimming your Boxwood and Taxus.  With Boxwood just starting to push out there spring flush of growth trimming the new growth can be trimmed before it hardens off or allowed to flush out to fill in.  Either way the trimming done now will be mostly covered up by the foliage that flushes out now. Now is also a good time to go ahead and get an application of fertilizer down.  I like to use Espoma’s Holly Tone.

One of the biggest problems I see is from incorrect pruning.  Most people tend to trim the sides straight up and down.  This allows the top of the plant to shade out the bottom and prevent in from being able to photosynthesize and produce growth.  We have all seen (Taxus especially) plants that look like a globe on a stick because of this.  When you trim the sides of a hedge or any evergreens for that matter you want to make sure that you trim at a slight angle.  This makes sure the bottome of the plant gets enough sun to stay full and healthy.

In the drawing below you can see how the pruning should look in section.  The photograph shows the proper angle to hold your shears at while trimming.  If you have any questions please let me know.dsc_0006



Filed under Boxwood Care, Pruning