'Gold Mop' false cypresses and globe arbs, reclaimed!
From too tall, foliage-thin and awkwardly shaped to graceful
density in 2 years.
We also prune evergreens to restrict their size. For instance,
you've recently seen us reduce a spruce and a false
cypress, following a procedure just like that we used in Cut back a
redbud... except the spruce and falsecypress each had just one
main limb to the redbud's five.
The evergreens shown here are also done following the
redbud-cutting procedure, except they have many more main
branches to be headed back. We don't intend this article to
reiterate the process, just to help you see the realistic
It can take a few years to rehabilitate a plant. That's almost
always true when it's an evergreen that's overgrown or has been
pruned repeatedly to an inappropriate form. Add more time and
finesse if it's a species that is not likely to push out new leafy
tips when cut back to bare wood. Those species: juniper,
arborvitae, pine, spruce, fir and false cypress.
We knew this particular reclamation would take more than a year.
Since the client was willing, we set out to return these gold
thread false cypresses and globe arborvitaes to pleasing size and
These photos mark the beginning and end of a 25 month project.
Finally this week we declared, "That's worked! Now we can start
treating them like normal dwarf conifers and prune them only every
year or two in August."
Below, to begin: Too big, with bare patches all over and
shorn out of all of the species' natural lacy, fluffy
Below: Immediately after the first cut. "Oh my goodness,
Janet!" said the owner, "There's nothing left!"
"Indeed," we replied, "all is gone except what, if it grows back,
will be acceptable. Let's give them a few weeks. If they are too
bare we can simply replace them and start over."
Below: The shrubs did rally and we cut them three more times
-- after 12 months, 18 months and 24 months. Now the bare spots are
almost gone, all are leafy to the ground, with strong stems and
none are too big.
Hard to follow the change? Focus on just one of the false
cypresses from beginning (left) to first cut (center) and now
We will eventually assemble photos to show the whole cutback
and rejuvenation process applied to these conifers. Some will be
added here over time. Sooner, you can see them at the Conifer
College described below. We must get on the stick, since there are
hundreds of photos involved from which we'll pick only a handful
that speak most eloquently.
We apologize for the confusing shadows on some of these
photos. We garden for a living, whereas this reporting is a
personal project. So garden work takes priority over the reporting.
That means when light doesn't cooperate we try to compensate, but
cannot reschedule the actual work.
To learn by seeing
and participating in the play by play
If you want to become more adept at keeping your evergreens in
our calendar of events and watch our weekly newsletters for
where we'll be appearing.
We love to work hands-on with you in our
Garden by Janet & Steven sessions. We also have
many hands-on and in-depth workshops, such as coming up this
July 12-14, 2012, Thursday - Saturday, in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
the American Conifer Society offers everyone a great chance to
learn more about selecting the best, pruning, tending, and
diagnosing problems of garden conifers. It happens at their
National Conference Friday and Saturday, plus a special all-day
Conifer College preceding the conference.
Janet's speaking about pruning evergreens and Steven about
diagnosing conifer problems, and we're especially excited to be
part of this event because we've seen few so jam-packed with very
special experts and great topics... for very little expense.
Registration for this excellent symposium and conference is
about to close, so register now. Download the meeting brochure and the conifer
college brochure as well as the registration form from the
American Conifer Society website.