We are getting on top of winter jobs. Pruning a red- stemmed Acer tree, to keep it in bounds in a small garden. As a bonus there will be beautiful pea sticks for the vegetable garden.
The tree is growing in my in-law’s garden. It is far too vigorous for its position. But the stems are a glorious bright red in winter, and the leaves have good autumn colour. So we Pollard it to keep it manageable and to ensure that it doesn’t cast too much shade.
This will be the second year of looking after my in-law’s garden- hoping to keep them in their own home for as long as possible. They have lived in this house since it was built 60 years ago. The garden is my father in laws pride and joy and is totally immaculate. Now they have carers calling twice a day, and various other health care professionals regularly popping in, it is wonderful to have a beautiful garden for them all to enjoy. It’s lovely to see visitors smile when they look out of the windows. Their jobs can’t be easy. But a colourful well-tended garden lifts everyone’s spirits.
Pollarding is a method of pruning where the upper branches of a tree or shrub are removed, creating a dense head of foliage and branches. It’s a technique to keep trees smaller than they would naturally grow. Of course, it would be best to plant the right tree in the right place, in the first place. But this doesn’t always happen in real life.
The bark of this acer is beautiful too. I am glad we are able to save this tree, by careful pruning every year. And the colourful pea sticks will be a joy in summer when we grow deep purple Shiraz Mangetout through the scarlet twiggy sticks.
Trees that respond to pollarding include: lime, London plane, mulberry, oak, ash, liriodendron and willow and some acers.
At home, I pollard shrubs including Cotinus Grace, to keep it within bounds and to encourage the large purple leaves it produces. And a Salix Britzensis or scarlet willow, which produces the most colourful stems on new growth.
Our trees require only a hand saw and loppers and a short ladder. For larger trees I would recommend a tree surgeon. To search for a qualified professional look on line at the Arboricultural Association.