Pruned


"What about these mugos?" I gestured to one of the pines framing our front stairs. Well, blocking the stairs, actually. Any time visitors come to the front door, they have to practically vault over the greenery.

"That's not mugo," the arborist said. "It's dwarf scotch. Softer needles."

I nodded and cast a glance at my husband. This was the third plant we'd misidentified so far.

"Look at the size of that trunk. That pine is forty years old at least." He studied it, scratching his chin. "Never been pruned, either."

Exactly. I wanted the shrubs trimmed back, to open up the house's entrance and to give it a more balanced look. As it was now, the shrub on the left was easily twice the size of its partner to the right.

"Do you know the best way to prune?" The arborist asked.

I grinned. "Close my eyes and hack away." I think he thought I was joking.


"You have some pruners? I can show you how to do it."

"I'll get them," I said, eager to prove that my husband and I knew something about landscaping. I went to the garage and grabbed the pruners.

The arborist watched my approach. "Those aren't pruners. Those are loppers."

"Oh," I said softly, letting the tool drop to my side.

The arborist took the loppers and began trimming the right shrub, talking us through the process as he worked. "Now this would be easier with pruners," he said over his shoulder, but let's see what we can do." He trimmed and studied, studied and trimmed. He stepped back and studied the overall effect and trimmed some more. As we watched great vacancies sprang up here and there within the shrub, but it began to take some shape.

"It looks better!" My husband said.

"Look up natural pruning," the arborist replied. "You'll get the hang of it." He handed me the loppers and studied the shrub one last time. "Well, it doesn't look worse than it did," he said. "That's what happens when you leave the trimming for so long. Get yourself a good pair of pruners."

"I will," I promised.

And I did, but not before tackling the shrubs with the loppers this afternoon. I trimmed the right one first, finishing the job the arborist had started, cutting enough back so that I could see the porch's handrail. I stepped back to admire my work. Not bad. Certainly not worse than it had looked.

The left shrub next.

The giant shrub.

The shapeless blob that was devouring half of the entrance.

I trimmed and studied, studied and trimmed, positioning the cumbersome loppers carefully, taking my time, following the directions given to me by the arborist. I stood back. I couldn't see the handrail.

I returned to the shrub and trimmed some more.

I stepped back.

Still I couldn't see the handrail.

I trimmed and I trimmed and I trimmed. (I had studied enough.)

Finally, the shrub had been taken down to size.

I stood back...and gasped: I could see the handrail. But half of the shrub was gone.

"It looks like a van Gogh," my husband said, gesturing at my work. "Looks like you cut off an ear."

"But you can see the handrail now," I pointed out. "And doesn't look worse than it did."

"I'm not sure..." my husband said.

And I am not sure either.

I'll be sure to let you know in the spring.

Tomorrow I paint those beautiful handrails and...wait: Do those azaleas look a bit scruffy to you?





Labels: ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Pruned

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pruned


"What about these mugos?" I gestured to one of the pines framing our front stairs. Well, blocking the stairs, actually. Any time visitors come to the front door, they have to practically vault over the greenery.

"That's not mugo," the arborist said. "It's dwarf scotch. Softer needles."

I nodded and cast a glance at my husband. This was the third plant we'd misidentified so far.

"Look at the size of that trunk. That pine is forty years old at least." He studied it, scratching his chin. "Never been pruned, either."

Exactly. I wanted the shrubs trimmed back, to open up the house's entrance and to give it a more balanced look. As it was now, the shrub on the left was easily twice the size of its partner to the right.

"Do you know the best way to prune?" The arborist asked.

I grinned. "Close my eyes and hack away." I think he thought I was joking.


"You have some pruners? I can show you how to do it."

"I'll get them," I said, eager to prove that my husband and I knew something about landscaping. I went to the garage and grabbed the pruners.

The arborist watched my approach. "Those aren't pruners. Those are loppers."

"Oh," I said softly, letting the tool drop to my side.

The arborist took the loppers and began trimming the right shrub, talking us through the process as he worked. "Now this would be easier with pruners," he said over his shoulder, but let's see what we can do." He trimmed and studied, studied and trimmed. He stepped back and studied the overall effect and trimmed some more. As we watched great vacancies sprang up here and there within the shrub, but it began to take some shape.

"It looks better!" My husband said.

"Look up natural pruning," the arborist replied. "You'll get the hang of it." He handed me the loppers and studied the shrub one last time. "Well, it doesn't look worse than it did," he said. "That's what happens when you leave the trimming for so long. Get yourself a good pair of pruners."

"I will," I promised.

And I did, but not before tackling the shrubs with the loppers this afternoon. I trimmed the right one first, finishing the job the arborist had started, cutting enough back so that I could see the porch's handrail. I stepped back to admire my work. Not bad. Certainly not worse than it had looked.

The left shrub next.

The giant shrub.

The shapeless blob that was devouring half of the entrance.

I trimmed and studied, studied and trimmed, positioning the cumbersome loppers carefully, taking my time, following the directions given to me by the arborist. I stood back. I couldn't see the handrail.

I returned to the shrub and trimmed some more.

I stepped back.

Still I couldn't see the handrail.

I trimmed and I trimmed and I trimmed. (I had studied enough.)

Finally, the shrub had been taken down to size.

I stood back...and gasped: I could see the handrail. But half of the shrub was gone.

"It looks like a van Gogh," my husband said, gesturing at my work. "Looks like you cut off an ear."

"But you can see the handrail now," I pointed out. "And doesn't look worse than it did."

"I'm not sure..." my husband said.

And I am not sure either.

I'll be sure to let you know in the spring.

Tomorrow I paint those beautiful handrails and...wait: Do those azaleas look a bit scruffy to you?





Labels: ,

4 Comments:

At October 31, 2013 at 7:02 AM , Blogger Ruby Manchanda said...

Nice work

 
At October 31, 2013 at 9:52 AM , Blogger Elisabeth Kinsey said...

Bushes and trees - beautiful but what to do with them?! Great post.

 
At November 5, 2013 at 12:51 PM , Blogger Deborah Batterman said...

I'm off the hook -- my husband's eye for design had him finessing our landscaping (and we have gardeners who mow the lawn in spring and summer). But I did smile, nonetheless, with a special appreciation for misnaming trees and that Van Gogh shrub of yours.

 
At November 6, 2013 at 2:18 PM , Blogger Alison McDonough said...

It's like hair. No need to fret. It'll grow back.

 

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