Shrub Shaping 

A recent drive to my trailhead, and Texas Sage / Leucophyllum spp. in bloom.

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roundabout #1 – balls, mushrooms but still flowering

Of course, the public street’s roundabout planting areas are too small for a 6’+ shrub, or such a plant given the need for safety and visibility. (3′-8′ high is the zone many towns require to be clear at intersections)

And the shrubs are under 3′ – by force.

But the usual suspects do it anyway, over and over. Even the city, violating their own rules. Crazy! (at least I try to design appropiately and explain / educate)

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roundabout #2 – a different form, only the trees safe

Now, here’s a private planting of the same shrub on the same street, but left in its natural form, with space to mature.

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a 10′ wide parkway strip

Which form of shrub pruning benefits drivers and pedestrians more? Or the plants?

Loose and Tight

Shirley in San Antonio brought up something to bring balance in this issue of over-shaping and over-pruning plants, especially shrubs.

Sometimes there is a good reason to prune. I spied this last week on a burrito run!

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Littleleaf Cordia / Cordia parviflora with white blooms *

Loose Littleleaf Cordia in the rear, on the bank property. A tight, green Texas Sage / Leucophyllum spp. in front, on the Taco Cabana property.

Accidental, perhaps. But this scene looks best maintained just like it is.

The Leucophyllum will probably flower less this way, but if not kept too severely tight, it will still have some blooms, as others all over town do.

The Texas Sages’ tightness pops better here beacuse of the Cordia, and vice-versa. Both pump up the impact of the other; each would be less if the other were pruned in the opposite manner it is.
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*Littleleaf Cordia / Cordia parviflora is hardy in arid USDA z 9a, the probable zone at this site just inside the urban heat island-thermal belt combo of central El Paso. Littleleaf Cordia also combines well with lower water-use desert accents, cacti, not just lighter or darker contrasting walls and clipped shrubs.