Pruning Shrubs and Trees

I love to prune.  Pruning is an art, a science, and a kind of meditation.  Like much of gardening,  pruning is a subtractive process–a careful removal of that growth which does not serve the plant’s health, circulation and aesthetic grace.  In pruning-geek circles, good pruning is called “aesthetic” pruning.  You know a plant has been well-pruned when you can’t tell exactly what was done to make it look so darned good.

The essence of good pruning was most concisely explained to me by the teacher of a japanese maple pruning class I once took.  He said, “A tree is a slow explosion, solidified.”  He said that when pruning, one should always respect the flow of energy moving outward from the base of the trunk.  Isn’t that beautiful?  It’s true too.  If you think about how a plant grows, it is literally an expansion of growth energy upward and outward from the seed.  When you prune, you aim to celebrate and showcase this beautiful movement-made-solid.

Part of being a skilled professional is knowing which plants need what kinds of pruning.  Many (but not all) roses, for instance, are reduced to bare sticks poking from the ground after proper pruning in late winter.  Certain vines need to be pruned back to flowering spurs three times per year, whereas others need to be whacked to the ground in early spring.  Fruit trees are a whole different ball game, and young trees are treated quite differently from old trees.   Pines need to be candled, forsythias thinned.  It’s a fascinating body of knowledge and a totally immersive practice.

If you’d like to learn about pruning, you can copy and paste the link to Plant Amnesty:  This wonderful non-profit was founded by Cass Turnbull in Seattle to save plants everywhere from the cruel butcheries witnessed around parking lots far and wide.

Please call us to prune in your garden–you will love the results, and so will your plants!