Pruning in the southeast quadrant continues
Our yard, southeast quadrant, part 2
Every time I prune on this pine, I am reminded anew how fun it is to "reveal."
I started this Shore Pine as a baby, with its trunk and a branch making "V" angles to the ground. I had transplanted it as a seedling from my parents' cabin at the beach. (I remember the day I planted it, my children barely kindergarten then, and now they are 26 and 28. Much is tied to the sweet feelings I have for this tree.)
I used to candle this pine annually, until it just outgrew my ability (time wise) to keep up. Now I let it grow, and make thinning cuts every third year or so. It seems to get lovelier with age each time I open it up.
Or maybe I just fall in love with it all over again, each time I prune for this form.
I prune from the inside out (literally stand on the inside of the tree, and make thinning cuts from inside). The pleasure here is in the sculpting of the sensuous form it wants to be, and also in the soft bed of needles.
These needles--I never throw them away! Never rake them up, never compost them. (If you ever run across someone trying to trash their pine needles, do offer to take the debris off their hands!) They make a fantastic mulch layer for acid loving plants. And they are the best top-dressing over a woodland path. Almost no weeds will grow. And it is soft as a carpet.
Pruning for air circulation and sunlight, relieving overcrowding
Adjacent to the Shore Pine, there are more "formerly medium" shrubs, now "large," continuing to evolve. I rescued this Mahonia 'Arthur Menzies' from the ever-expanding Pacific Wax Myrtle (Myrica californica).
I limbed up the Mahonia, and pruned out Myrica and Pinus branches that were crowding the Mahonia. Wherever there was a conflict ("remove the pine branch? or the Mahonia branch?"), I always favored the Mahonia. Giving the beautiful winter flower of 'Arthur Menzies' more light and breathing room, in this instance, was always the right decision.
A bit of a side track...but this is how the same plant looked four years ago, in spring. If pruning and editing is about the evolution of a garden, this is a show of "Four Years in the Life of" an Arthur Menzies Mahonia. In spring he features patterns of foliage and cascading blue berries.
To the left of the Mahonia, there's this beautyberry, which also received a little attention from simple hand pruners. I removed a bit of the criss-crossing branches that make Callicarpa look tangly. This blooms on new wood, and late winter is best for heavier pruning, but a little selective thinning in fall is a treat for your vases indoors.
In the last of my pruning/removals stories from this section of my yard, next week I finish with these lovelies. Tune in Monday...winter berries and evergreen foliages...the rewards of pruning.
Story and photography: Alyse Lansing©, all rights reserved.