We teamed up with the Bold Italic to talk decorating for the holiday season using boughs cut from the garden. Take a moment to check it out!!! Then, if you wanna know more about the pruning aspect come back and read on!
With a little forethought, fall pruning can be put off until early winter. Then it can serve the double purpose of pruning and making the season more festive. (Don’t put off pruning your deciduous trees, they really are happiest when pruned in fall as they lose their foliage – or in spring as they leaf out again. Trees that lose their leaves don’t make great garland anyway! ) Boughs frpm plants that keep their leaves or are ‘evergreen’ are the best, and don’t mind the winter pruning. We like to explore alternatives to evergreen conifers that are traditionally used such as cedar or fir. We have found that Luecadendron, Eucalyptus, Acacia, Magnolia or Olive are Good choices. They are all common to California gardens and their tough foliage holds up well to hanging indoors.
There are a number of reasons to prune. In our tiny San Francisco lots, shrubs and trees can quickly grow out of scale. Pruning plants back is a must. The trick is in maintaining the appearance of the natural form of the plants. Here are a few infographics that share the basics:
How you make your cuts is as important as what you cut. For heavy branches, make a relief cut first ( a few inches above the collar), then prune off the stub. Be certain not to remove the ‘collar’ – a thickened band of overlapping connective tissue. Leaving it will ensure the cut heals quickly.
There are tons of pruning techniques to explore. We are big fans of hiding the neighbors with espalier, a technique to flatten trees. To the point about appreciating a plants natural form …only smaller, the Japanese really developed the art. When the techniques of bonsai are applied to trees in gardens this is referred to as ‘niwaki’. These techniques go way beyond the Japanese garden, the idea is to let the natural form of the tree shine through even in a smaller scale. We find good pruning therapeutic, you will too. If you are interested, get a book on the basics, and experiment. It’s fun!