Photos from 10/31/2019, an unusually early hard freeze (20F low)
To do: prune existing boxwood, maintain new boxwood, relate both
Sometimes due to factors out of my control (nurseries, ecoregion), no native shrubs exist to perform a design’s necessary functions.
I use common but tough, adapted, and slightly-mesic species such as – sarcastic gasp – India Hawthorn or Boxwood. There in part shade, it’s Winter Gem Boxwood / Buxus microphylla var. koreana ‘Winter Gem’.
Sometimes regional or local evergreen natives like Vauquelinia, Nolina, or Dasylirion species don’t have characteristics to create the desired effect in a garden. And very-tough juniper and rosemary are not always leafy enough with their needle-like foliage.
Boxwood works, especially since a duo of boxwoods exist nearby. (right, in the shade by the patio arch)
The new and existing boxwoods will be pruned as they grow. Soon there will be continuity, to fulfill the design intent.
Done: prune existing and new Desert Olive / Forestiera neomexicana plants.
These dwarf trees are native to floodplain bosques and even a few upland arroyos. Like all trees, they require training to grow properly – especially their first few years.
This is especially true for multi-trunk, arid-region trees, which those without their desert eyes on refer to as “shrubs.”
This starts with gentle thinning and lifting of the canopy towards what a mature Desert Olive develops into, only much faster than geologic time. Before and after, from 3 directions…
From the west / front walkway:
Arborists recommend removing no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the live canopy or branching each year, so keep that in mind each time pruning. Pruning maximizes plant health by balancing structure, growth, and function. The effect is often subtle but noticeable – not timid or extreme.
First, remove dead and crossing branches…this is much of the work in pruning a live tree in the right place. Second, consider the individual tree’s form for the species and landscape it’s located. Third, correct any poor branching angles to minimize future problems.
Did you notice all that in the previous photos?
Look again, then continue on to the rest of this blog post. I didn’t show the other 2, smaller Desert Olive trees recently planted, but similar work was done to those.
From the north:
From the east:
Balanced and subtle, the pruning is complete for 2019.
A skilled arborist is needed to do work on larger trees, once they grow too tall for the rest of us – including for issues other than pruning. Here’s an excellent Instagram feed from a different ecoregion, showing how a municipal arborist approaches tree pruning (similar principles but different tree species):