When we purchased the very large specimens of 'Milky Way' from Chapon's for the Collins corners, we knew they were stock from the previous season, and as a result, were stressed, but we figured we could baby them back to health. Towards that end, we have been regularly supplementing their water with rooting hormone, we have given them some nice compost, and some excellent organic fertilizer. When Mother Nature doesn't provide the water, volunteers from the garden club do.
It's almost July and it's a dry day--a perfect time to prune woody plants like our little dogwoods.
I went at them today, a little more conservatively than I would have if they had not been stressed. In other words, there are a few crossing branches and shoots from the base of the tree that I would have removed if I didn't want to preserve every leaf to do their important job of photosynthesis. I only removed dead or damaged wood, and opened up the center a little bit. I also found some long-dead ivy tendrils that were still strangling some of the upper branches, and removed all of those.
You can see from the bucket in the snapshot; 'Milky Way' is a twiggy bugger, so it took quite a while to work my way through those tiny twigs. (In Girl Scout parlance, it's all tinder, and no kindling or fuel.) Normally, I find pruning to be a very soothing experience--a perfectly literal decision tree from start to finish. I was feeling very Zen for the first couple of hours, and then I came to two conclusions: 1. My pruner is garbage, and I need a new one today. 2. I should have eaten breakfast before I started this project.
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