Aesthetic Pruning of Flowering Trees and Shrubs Class

Give flowers room to shine.

There is more to pruning flowering trees and shrubs than the prescribed once a year pruning to encourage flowering. Learn how to get the most out of your flowers as well as keep your plants healthy and in scale to your garden. We will review some of the most common flowering trees and shrubs in the Portland area but also learn how to decipher and come up with a pruning plan for those less common.

The class will be inside but weather and time permitting, we will take a look at some of the flowering trees and shrubs found in and around the Gresham Japanese Garden.

The class will be held at the Gresham Japanese Garden Resource Center at 219 S. Main Avenue, Gresham OR 97080.

Time: 1:00-4:30

Price: $40.00

See you there!

Click here to register.

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How to prune a …

I bought my first pruning book before I ever owned a woody plant. I was taking aesthetic pruning classes at Merritt College in Oakland and being the quintessential book hoarder I bought two used books immediately. They sit nicely on my shelf with the other five pruning books I now own. A few years ago I looked up how to prune raspberries. Sometimes I look at the espalier techniques and wonder why I don’t do more espalier pruning. Sometimes I refresh my knowledge about meristematic cells (Tissue in most plants containing undifferentiated cells, found in zones of the plant where growth can take place. Wikipedia) or auxin (A class of plant growth substance, often called phytohormone that plays an essential role in the coordination of many growth and behavioral processes. The Miracle of Trees by Olavi Huikari). These two are not always found in pruning books even though they should be in every single one. Pest and diseases are constantly on my mind and I am very excited about all the new ongoing research about soil. But for the most part, my books wait patiently on the shelf. Ok, sometimes in a pile on a table.

My books are a valuable resource, but the verbal and hands-on education I have received about pruning is what sticks with me the most. I admit, its how I learn the best but there is also something about pruning that lends itself to in-person translation.

By now you know this post is about encouraging you to sign up for my class on the 27th. Not only is this class about setting a foundation for pruning woody plants, it is an introduction to problem solving techniques adapted to pruning. These are techniques you will be able to use on your own plants, in the context of your garden or any garden you may work in. I will see you there!

Click here to sign up.

The drawing makes sense.

Now what???

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Introduction to Aesthetic Pruning Class

Happy New Year!

In 2018 I will be starting a series of aesthetic pruning classes. The first will be an introduction to aesthetic pruning. I will cover aesthetic pruning principles and techniques applicable to any woody plant and many garden styles. I will cover basic biology , tools, safety and how to decipher seasonal tasks. We will discuss how to use three types of cuts to achieve pruning goals and to develop a long term plan for fostering your woody plants.

The class will be inside. An outline will be provided but bring something to take notes with. The class will be located at the Gresham Japanese Garden Resource Center at 219 S. Main Avenue, Gresham OR  97080. $40.00, from 1:00 to 4:30.

I hope to see you there!

To register for the class go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/introduction-to-aesthetic-pruning-tickets-41605821131

Thinning cut.

 

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Its been one year.

July 2015, my family and I packed up our worldly belongings and headed north to Portland Oregon. Claire, Goldie the goldfish, Suzie Q our dog and I in the car. Mark and our bunny Amelia in a Uhaul. It felt like a mad dash to get on the road but once we did the miles slipped by and we fell into travel time with Goldie the first to shout out “Are we there yet?”.

We spent the 4th of July in Marin County with fine friends and a killer view.

We spent our last California 4th of July in Marin County with fine friends and a killer view.

Goodby Lyon Avenue. You taught us much.

Goodby Lyon Avenue!

A few weeks before the move I loaded up the truck with my pruning ladder and 30 trees. I had big plans for them in Oakland and now I have big plans for them in Portland! I covered them with burlap and they made the drive with only a few burnt leaves and lived happily with my sister in Portland until I could catch up to them.

There are 30 trees packed into the bed of that truck. Mostly conifers and a few maples.

There are 30 trees packed into the bed of the truck. Mostly conifers and a few maples.

We were pleasantly surprised by the view outside of our new apartment window. We had definitely arrived in Oregon. Land of big trees to say the least.

We were pleasantly surprised by the view outside of our new apartment window. We had definitely arrived in Oregon. Land of big trees to say the least.

The Great Northwest.

The Great Northwest. Our journey begins!

The rest of the summer flew by in a whirlwind of unpacking boxes, keeping Claire busy and getting use to the hot summer weather. In September I was off to The American Conifer Society national meeting in Petaluma CA. It didn’t take long for me to go back to California! In October I was off to Durham NC to participate as an instructor for the NAJGA regional workshop at the Duke Gardens in the newly installed Pine Clouds Mountain Stream garden. Before long the holidays descended and Claire got to play in the snow and eat ice off of the fir trees.

Fir Ice

Yum?

We made it through our first winter and enjoyed the crazy growth that comes with a North West spring.

This maple has been sheared into a ball for quite a few years. This is the resulting spring push. It now belongs to me and my family so keep a look out for future progress photos.

This maple has been sheared into a ball for quite a few years. This is the resulting spring push. It now belongs to me and my family so keep a look out for future progress photos as I attempt to return it to a natural form.

This is the view of that crazy maple from inside. Beautiful trunks framed by the window.

A view of that crazy maple from inside. It has beautiful trunks framed by the window. This is the primary viewpoint for this tree.

This brings me back to July. One year later. It has been a wild year. I miss everyone in California, my home for 15 years. But Portland has welcomed us with open arms and we are so happy to be here!

Maple and Moss

Maple and Moss

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Go Wild with Conifers at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show!

This year I had the honor of presenting with Sara Malone (of Form and Foliage) at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. We talked about the various conifers that are perfect to grow in Northern California and how to take care of them once you do. We had some wonderful examples of trees with us and a ton of great photo’s but I was really impressed with the amount of questions and interest from the audience. If I didn’t mention it then I will say it now. Don’t worry, my experience tells me Conifer Syndrome does not happen quickly but builds slowly until one day your realize you have rows of conifers in pots waiting to be planted. It only took about six months for me. Nothing to worry about at all.

Its been six months since we gave the presentation… In California, fall is the perfect time to get those trees in the ground. Are you ready?

Start your pruning plan early.

Start your pruning plan early.

These pines work well to add structure, texture and color all while keeping eager tourists out of the planting beds.

These pines work well to add structure, texture and color all while keeping eager tourists out of the planting beds.

The natural from of this cultivar is to be thick and full but in an urban situation it also need to be open so people can't hid behind it. A more open tree also lets light and air get to the back of the tree to keep those shaded branches alive.

The natural from of this cultivar is to be thick and full but in an urban situation it also need to be open so people can’t hid behind it. A more open tree also lets light and air get to the back of the tree to keep those shaded branches alive.

With the tree more open, the back and lower branches will stay alive and grow to fill out space. I love the play of light and shadow against the wall.

With the tree more open, the back and lower branches will stay alive and grow to fill out the space. I love the play of light and shadow against the wall.

 

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Chicago Garden of the Phoenix Workshop

On October 15th I had the honor of being one of the APA aesthetic pruning instructors for the NAJGA hands-on workshop held in the Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park Chicago. It is a very historical garden built for the 1893 Worlds Fair. There is way too much history for me to get into so check here for more information about the garden.

The workshop consisted of three parts. Installing a moss garden (with Rick Smith and Dale Sievert), a stone pathway with John Powell and Hironori Kamoshita and aesthetic pruning (with Grant Foerster, Greg Kitajima, Peter Bowyer and myself). The only problem with being an instructor is that I missed out on the moss and stone! The work was wonderful and it is amazing what a group of people can accomplish in one day.

The moment I stepped into the garden I felt peaceful and relaxed and that is saying a lot considering I had a full day of pruning instruction ahead of me! There is a great combination of intimate spaces and broad vistas. I felt a closeness with the landscape yet at moments could appreciate the vastness of nature. Definitely a garden worth visiting!

I wish I had more photo’s of the garden but I was too busy meeting interesting people and pruning!

The signature pine in the garden. It is beautiful with the bridge, the water behind and the reflection in the front.

The signature pine in the garden. It is beautiful with the bridge, the water behind and the reflection in the front.

 

We began the workshop discussing the focal pine. It was a little drizzly but no one seemed to mind!

We began the workshop discussing the focal pine. It was a little drizzly but no one seemed to mind!

Attendees of the workshop opened up these crab apples and simplified the structure.

Attendees of the workshop opened up these crab apples, lifting the canopy and simplifying the structure.

A big thanks goes to Karen Szyjka of the Chicago Park District (in the yellow slicker giving introductions) for making the workshop possible!

A big thanks goes to Karen Szyjka of the Chicago Park District (in the yellow slicker giving introductions) for making the workshop possible!

Another big thanks goes to Bill (in the blue coat). He is the head gardener who takes care of the garden and keeps it looking so wonderful. Bill guided us through the garden and selected the plant material that needed to be worked on the most.

Another big thanks goes to Bill Coons (in the blue coat). He is the head gardener who keeps it looking so wonderful. Bill guided us through the garden and selected the plant material that needed to be worked on the most.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An unexpected bonus to the workshop was meeting Koichi Kobayashi (wearing the black coat and hat in the center of the photo). He was the designer for the main gate and pathway leading into the garden.

An unexpected bonus to the workshop was meeting Koichi Kobayashi (wearing the black coat and hat in the center of the photo). He was the designer for the main gate and pathway leading into the garden.

Karen, Mr. Kobayashi and participants listen to Greg Kitajima summarize the pruning goals for an area of Euonymus alatus.

Karen, Mr. Kobayashi and participants listen to Greg Kitajima summarize the pruning goals for an area of Euonymus alatus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the garden's waterfall with the pavilion behind it. It was the end of the day and we were all admiring the work that was accomplished.

This is the garden’s waterfall with the pavilion behind it. It was the end of the day and we were all admiring the work that was accomplished.

Someday I hope to return to this beautiful and unique garden!

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May Maples

In the San Francisco Bay area May is a great time for spring pruning of Japanese maples of all kinds. Pruning this time of year sets them up for looking great the rest of the summer.

Before photo of Japanese Maple with Blue Spruce

Before photo of Japanese Maple with Blue Spruce

After View of Japanese Maple thinned and opened up for the view.

After View of Japanese Maple thinned and opened up for the view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This winter we will do some work on the blue spruce below. They are growing as a pair and already the Spruce looks better with all the dead leaves brushed off the top of its branches.

View from the kitchen sink.

View from the kitchen sink.

Forest tapestry inside the dinning room. Aesthetic Pruning can enhance how the tree is experienced from the inside as well as outside view.

Forest tapestry inside the dinning room. Aesthetic Pruning can enhance how the tree is experienced from the inside as well as outside view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the views from the second story windows. It really looks like a living tapestry inside.

After photo. A little more breathing room and some selective cuts to establish the structure for future growth.

After photo. A little more breathing room and some selective cuts to establish the structure for future growth.

A little wild looking. It needs to grow into its leaves and establish a structure.

A little wild looking. It needs to grow into its leaves and establish a structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More maples!

After photo - view from outside.

After photo – view from outside.

View from outside before pruning.

View from outside before pruning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the next view from inside.

View from inside before pruning.

View from inside before pruning.

After pruning - View from inside the living room. The tree was positioned so the trunk and branches are at their best from inside.

After pruning – View from inside the living room. The tree was positioned so the trunk and branches are at their best from inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So many maples so little time! I love all the different leaf shapes, colors, structure and light play.

 

 

 

 

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Conifer Garden

I have caught the conifer bug.  My recent membership to the American Conifer Society has opened my eyes to a whole world of shape, texture, color and intrigue. It satisfies every curiosity from macro to micro aesthetics and I have a feeling this is just the beginning. Here are a few photos from a recent ACS Western Regional meeting in Olympia WA.  For more amazing conifers  check out my gallery.  Warning – Conifer addiction could happen to you too!

Cedrus libani 'Green Prince'

Cedrus libani ‘Green Prince’ Photo taken at Albers Vista Gardens of Kitsap WA.

Leftover cones from Abies squamata. Albers Vista Gardens of Kitsap WA

Leftover cones from Abies squamata. Albers Vista Gardens of Kitsap WA

I was captivated by the curly branches of Larix kaempferi 'Diana'.

I was captivated by the curly branches of Larix kaempferi ‘Diana’.

Amazing contrast on the Abies koreana 'Ice Breaker'

Amazing contrast on the Abies koreana ‘Ice Breaker’

Cedrus atlantica 'Sapphire Nymph'. Beautiful blue and wonderful contrast in scale.

Cedrus atlantica ‘Sapphire Nymph’. Beautiful blue and wonderful contrast in scale.

Of course, the always beautiful leaf and color of the Ginkgo.

Of course, the always beautiful leaf and color of the Ginkgo. Ceonosium Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

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Thoughtful pruning of Japanese Maples

These two maples create a wonderful experience at the entry of this home.  In past years they had been sheared into a ball but then let to grow out again.  It left a lot of die-back in the interior.  I pruned out the dead branches, removed crossing branches and unruly growth especially around the eaves of the house.

Before Pruning and Cleaning out of dead wood

Tree on the right has been pruned

After photo of Pruned Japanese Maples

 

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Japanese Maple Spring Pruning

Japanese Maple before spring pruning

Japanese Maple after spring pruning - beautiful trunk, branches and wonderful light!

Upon first glance, it might be hard to even tell this is a tree not a large shrub. Under previous ownership, it use to be sheared every year into a round ball. Now the goal is to have a more natural shaped canopy as well as open it up so the interesting branches and trunk can be viewed. Oh, and look like an actual tree!

You will notice in the “before” picture how dark it is under the tree and how you can’t even see the branches or trunk but in the “after” picture, dappled light makes the whole garden seems lighter and breathe easier. I admit I pruned the juniper in the background as well but that is another story!

This is a familiar scenario –Large Japanese maple, close to the house with the original design intent long forgotten. It may take a few years of spring and winter pruning to get the tree back to looking like a tree and not a lolly pop but each season I am more impressed with how the tree is revealing its true essence.

 

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