Pruning Trees

I?m back. I am a serial worker it seems. I?ve spent weeks trying to finish the new edition of a 1991 book ECOLOGICAL GARDENING. To the astonishment of my publisher Anne Collins of Random House, I got it in at exactly the hour I said I would (also a couple of days early as well). I was pretty astonished myself but everything else dropped to one side in the push to complete it.There so much that?s happened and not all of it good over the years. Disappointing and terrifying is more like it. But the book was amazingly prescient about climate change and the need to shift our gardening techniques. Anyway, it will be out early in the new year.img_6509_350.jpgI did manage to get out to client?s gardens with arbourist Derek Welsh. He also had to spend time in my garden. I stupidly placed a Cornus controversa ?Variegata? in absolutely the wrong place. So Derek is going to spend the rest of my life in this garden keeping it in a lollypop shape because it?s too big to move.This is called do what I write, not what I actually do. What a dope. I didn?t read the plant tag properly, I ignored the research. I put something little in where I thought it would look perfect. It did too, until it started to grow into the monster it would end up being. So it?s being shaped into something it?s not.I like the look of it now, however, as it peaks through a dense part of the garden like a delicious secret. In situ it is absolutely stunning. That Derek. He can make anything crappy look good again. This has been a summer of such growth that weeds spring up over night. Toronto has had the most rain it its 70+ year history of keeping track.This place was looking shaggy and a little unkempt. A morning of Derek hovering his way through here changed all that: a large limb is now gone out of the witch hazel, massive chunks out of an ailing Viburnum ?Shasta?, taking half of a Cornus mas ?Variegata? off, moving a Cotoneaster dielsianus var. ?Major? to a better aspect. It was flopping into my neighbour?s garden so he just turned it so it tumbles forward here—brilliant—I thought I was going to have to move it.img_6624_350.jpgBut what we found in a client?s garden was truly upsetting. A magnificent old magnolia was attacked (le mot juste ) by a famous Toronto company and I?ve never seen such a mess. Crossing branches were left and now a year and a half later dig into each other so badly a large limb has to be removed. The ends were tipped. The shape destroyed. As I say, Derek is a wizard. He will clean out these trees, find a lovely form and make them look good.Be very careful when you hire someone. Get a certified arbourist. If you are having a big job done, make sure you look what they?ve done in someone else?s garden. And don?t waste their time. These guys cannot do anything with your city trees so don?t ask.If they touch a city tree, both owner and arbourist will be fined heavily. You have to get your city councilLor to help if your town?s tree department won?t respond. An arbourist can do anything you need done (as well as move vines going into window areas and eaves) safely. But get someone with the eye of an artist. This stuff is expensive.When I?m doing a garden, the first thing I recommend is a good cleaning out. It?s one of the best investments you can make?bar none. Then it?s possible to see what you?ve actually got to deal with. It clears the mind as well as the garden. And it does piss me off when people balk at the prices. This is dangerous work, and it lasts for years. The aesthetics should be incomparable.I am now going off to spend rainy days playing UPWORDS and SCRABBLE with my grandchildren and will be back here on Sunday or Monday.

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