free advice for the great outdoors – if its not here – tell me

trees – crown raising, topping or training

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There should be no question of whether one ‘tops’ a tree. Trees should first be selected based upon a horticulturally educated basis. That is the right tree for the right place rather than a choice based on price. In practice generally – the shorter time a tree must spend growing in nursery to become a saleable plant the cheaper it is. Cheaper does, particularly in the case of trees does *not* mean better value.

However, when that tree you bought comes back to haunt you, the oirish thing to do is to ‘top’ the tree. No! I say.

The problem with this is that the auxins or the growth hormones will not not push to the growing point [tip] of the tree but down and then out the sides. Thus one ends up with a tree that takes up too much space and results in the appearance of an overgrown bush. That’s not bad practice, if you own the Phoenix Park…

When trees are quite young – I start pruning them early because I want movement of light through them. I want them [in theory] like a telegraph pole and then to start to produce foliage above that point. For fruiting trees this would be extremely different but they generally should not grow so tall and you also need to be able to reach the fruit. For a while they will look a little ‘scrawney’ but long term wise – it is the best thing to do.

The reality is also that if the mass/ weight above which the branches start – is greater than that below – then eventually it will not be supported by that below; the branches therefore will shed weight [more a theory of gravity] and the tree will naturally drop limbs. Imagine giving a ‘jockey back’ to ten people and trying to walk – they will start to fall off or you will be brought down! So in ‘crown raising’ early on, a thicker girth [the width of the stem] is encouraged; one which will support the branches above and inevitably less work of a chainsaw like nature will be required later on. It is I suppose training a tree rather than solving an issue.

I should therefore need nothing more than my secateurs for the first few years. Mine is a felco no. 30. The swiss [made] army knife of the horticultural world. Very deserved of a mention because with these you can replace every single piece individually – when the spring goes – one replaces only the spring. I have this one about eight years now… as you can see!

My advice: choose the right tree for the right place with a good idea of what type or style you like. Buy good healthy disease free stock ensuring that it has its plant passport where necessary. Take good sound advice – don’t mind Mary Maginity and the book she bought that says…. Garden Centres and gardening groups [et cetera] will give more relevant free advice that is probably more specific to you and your exact requirement.

free!! allium sativum

Also known as Garlic, these cloves [fresh] from China I bought in Superquinn!! Carbon footprint my tusche. The builders have destroyed my crop so I needed a fresh batch to grow from. I was surprised to discover their origin but these will be planted & not used for cooking.

To grow: Split the cloves. Plant 2″ down & 4″ apart. Plant now and lift at the end of summer when the leaves die off [as you would with most bulbs]. Let them dry and/ or replant. Free garlic!

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hedges – formal or informal

formal

formal

 If cutting nee maintaining fine lines of pristine planting isn’t for you then a formal hedge is not what you want. If however you like trimming or cutting from time to time and don’t mind ‘organised chaos’ then maybe you do! But a hedge as we [becoming elder] Irish know it, is something that requires looking after one sunny Saturday per year or so.

For the record and for clarity in this discussion please note the dictionary reference and definition: hedge n 1 a row of shrubs or bushes forming a boundary [source Collins English Dictionary]

informal...

informal...

If you do follow the dictionary (that I am so fond of reading) translation, then the logroll etched license interpretation that we inherited from the 1980’s becomes something delightfully and excitingly different. The science is that the internodal distance [distance between each set of buds] doesn’t really allow the plant to become ‘formal’ and so informality reigns though anti-symetric uneveness.

In theory if the correct horticultural decisions are made pre-planting then those hedge cutting fathers days can be spent on the golf course or playing croquet rather than bringing green waste to landfill. To clarify, all plants require some maintenance – just not as much, as often or as costly of your time or someone elses. In this day and age they can be bought in as established or mature plants. The two informal hedges above are one year old – to its new owners.

rootballs, bare roots & whips

tree planting

tree planting

All across Ireland on motorways, farmland and construction sites planting is taking place – but time waits for no man, to plant. Some say winter is the quite period for landscaping – I don’t really agree.

There are exceptions to every rule but in general, plants [bare roots/ whips] are dormant in winter. This allows, within reason the plant to be lifted out of the ground and planted without too many concerns apart from keeping the wind from the roots and/ or preventing them drying out. Because the plant it is lifted and sold [no potting] no added maintenance, costs can be reduced […there are exceptions].

There is one thing to remember – most bare roots and whips are native Irish so if you’ve been following my articles on design, you’ll know you pretty much need a large garden if you wish to buy in larger numbers – or else you’re a big bonsai fanatic! Native Irish [in my Moms language] meaning they’ll generally grow over 30′ tall. If you live near Griffith Avenue, you can have them but be sure you know what you’re buying – intelligent horticultural purchasing is required here.

If you dont fancy maintaining a matching hedge of beech [fagus sylvatica], a row mountain ash trees[fraxinus cvs] or a few specimen hollys [ilex cvs] then you can plant pretty much anytime you want, with anything. Now you must decide if you want formal or informal.

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trees – how to plant [2]

tree planting

tree planting

I’m told [verbally] that the last post on trees, although more technical and informative, is a little on the long side [thanks Aido]. For those of who just want to know how to simply plant a tree, or tell ‘a council’ they’ve done it all wrong – this ones especially for you!  enjoy

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