Renovating old trees

Our friend Bill, an artist, archaeologist and former arborist, came over today to prune our beautiful old flowering crab. The tree, seen blossoming in the Henbogle header, is a gnarled old specimen, planted before the previous owner of the house bought it in the 1970s.

Bill estimated the tree is at least 60 years old, and had probably never been pruned.  The lack of pruning and the considerable shade cast on the northeast side of the tree by our big old sugar maple made for some large, contorted limbs on the crab. Unfortunately, there was a lot of deadwood, and many water sprouts supporting more weight than they could handle.  Bill has been talking about pruning the tree since we met him, and finally today the stars were in alignment for tree pruning. He also gave another severe pruning to our over grown pear tree.

Below you can see photos taken during the process.

Climbing in and getting settled.

Way up top.

Assessing the progress about halfway through.

The goal was to remove the deadwood and overloaded suckers, to layer the branches, and expose the tree’s contorted architecture. The pile of trimmings is huge, and more than a little daunting.

The tree looks great, very different, with almost an Asian sensibility. I am really eager to see it bloom, which is usually the last week in May.

The pear tree had received one severe pruning a couple of years ago, and it was time for the second severe pruning to bring the tree down to a manageable height and encourage better fruit production.

Thus, the large center trunks had to go.

The nearly finished product.

Done but for a few more watersprouts, and training some branches.

Now, to deal with the pile of prunings.

We are so fortunate to have a friend like Bill, willing to spend the better part of a spectacularly beautiful Saturday in April doing this work! Thanks, Bill!

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5 Responses to “Renovating old trees”

  1. Kelly (fhf) Says:

    Wow! What a difference. If you’re still looking for ideas of what to do with the pile of branches, you could make a sweet natural fence or a fast and fierce bonfire. Oh, or you could chip it for bedding in your chicken coop.

  2. Margaret Says:

    Kelly is right – even though that pile of branches looks daunting, those trees will be even better this spring for the pruning. Please post pics when they bloom!

  3. michelle Says:

    We use the fruit tree trimmings when we cook stuff in the fire pit or in the smoker, even a bit green, it makes a nice aroma and taste.

  4. Meg Says:

    I love it! I’ve been on a pruning tear lately. I used to be of the “just leave them alone” school of thought (probably thanks to my dad, who prunes everything in sight down to a nub), but that is so not the way to go, especially with fruit trees. Bill did a fantastic job!

  5. Ali Says:

    Yesterday we carted loads of wood off to our town mulch pile. Today, the remaining branches were gathered into kindling sized pieces to use in the woodstove and fire pit. Plus I have the prunings of my cherry trees in the back.

    Meg, very clever to take loppers in hand now — practice on your landlord’s trees, I say, and get a feel for it. There is a kind of Zen to pruning once you get into it. (At least I think that’s what happened to my cherry trees!) The trees you pruned look great. Be prepared for a flush of water sprouts this summer which will need pruning next year.

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