Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Department of Pruning Oddities February 11, 2009

Filed under: neighborhood gardens,trees — greenwalks @ 11:57 pm

I had a pretty big “Huh?!” moment the other day while walking down a little side street near my daughter’s school. I saw this tree from a distance and almost thought I was having trouble with my vision or something. I mean, where are the branches??

Tree sculpture?

OK, yeah, I can see a few, a little fan of mini twigs at the top. But what about the rest of them, where did they go? There are no troublesome power lines to blame. Were they hacked off to avoid having to rake so many leaves? Then I started to look at the other elements of the parking strip garden.

Heavily pruned New Zealand flax, at least it survived the bad snows:

Red flax

OK, so heavy pruning seems to be a theme. Are they afraid their plants will grow some kind of normal shape and look, I dunno, natural? Isn’t that a plant’s job?

I was ready to call the Plant Amnesty hotline and report a pruning horror, when I saw the funky, arty front gate:

Funky gate

Then it occurred to me that the plants might have fallen under the category of art or sculpture for this gardener, kind of like bonsai only with different species. The tree, although uniquely shaped, didn’t look sickly and I’ll be curious to go back in summer to see what it looks like with its tiny fan of leaves. I guess there must be enough to keep the tree alive, limited chlorophyll and all.

Garden art takes many forms – maybe this is just one I hadn’t seen before. I’m trying to keep an open mind, lately, and figure that any creativity in a street garden is welcome, even if it’s not exactly what I might do. I hope others feel the same when they walk by my currently-awful-looking moonscape of a garden. Or at least that they don’t say it out loud within my hearing, if not!

Funky front garden


11 Responses to “Department of Pruning Oddities”

  1. You may be onto something, Karen, though it’s still a bit bizarre-looking…

    BTW–I have some old photos I brought back with me from my parents’ house, showing my dad with his hell-strip, as well of one with me deep in the muck working on the irrigation system. If you’re still interested, I’d love to do a mutual guest-blog about hell-stripping. How shall we work it out?

    You can contact me via email by going to my website (linked on my blog) and using the “contact me” email…

  2. Racquel Says:

    You must be right but it does look a bit bizarre with the one twig like branch coming out of the top.

  3. Megan Says:

    It’s almost an optical illusion, I thought it was a huge tree in the distance when I first looked at it.
    I’m trying the open mind plan, but it drives me completely crazy when people prune what shouldn’t be pruned. I go to a restaurant that does this to their new zealand flax, plus they top their bamboo, and it makes me angry every year.

  4. Catherine Says:

    It is very strange looking. Maybe you’re right and it was pruned that way for a reason. It definitely looks like they have spent time on the gate and arbor. I’d be interested in seeing what it looks like with leaves too. Maybe they are into Dr. Seuss, it looks like it could be from one of his books.

  5. Michelle Says:

    Well, not my style but perhaps they have a plan as you said. Lets hope so.

    Around here everyone likes to top their trees. Even trees that are in the yard and no where near power lines. Looks terrible and it is completely unnecessary. No one ever thinks of the tree!

  6. Melanthia Says:

    Seems sad to me. So much more could be done without mutilating plants.

  7. I am not convinced about the artistic nature of the pruning job. The integrity of the tree has been lost.

  8. Grace Says:

    I saw the optical illusion too. Before scrolling I could only see the top of the tree and it looked far off. That is one bizarre pruning job. It looks like there was an early cut that is healing correctly so someone must have done something right. This phormium looks a lot better than some of mine right now. I always tell myself that any attempt at gardening is better than no attempt although at times I’ve come really close to not believing it.

  9. Jen Says:

    Interesting arbor over the gate there, too. You gotta check back at this place in a few months Karen and see what’s going on. Just hang out by the gate until someone comes out and casually ask what they’re growing. More poking around here is definitely needed!

  10. Molly Says:

    From the looks of that tree the pruning job didn’t just happen overnight, so maybe it’s someone’s lifelong self-taught bonsai project! It reminds me of a heavily-pruned tree that I took a picture of last year. I’ll have to look for it and add it to the arborists’ hall of shame.

  11. Daniel Mount Says:

    Wow. What ever they were doing it doesn’t work for me. I do love the gate though. I also love that you walk around and take pictures of other peoples garden and comment. Usually us garden bloggers are just moaning and groaning or oohing and ahhing about our own gardens. Good job of reportage.

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