There is sometimes fear about pruning.Even more fear when it comes to expensive Japanese laceleaf maples.Many people do not prune them at all, for it is not really necessary.The trees are healthy and attractive without any pruning other than the removal of dead wood after winter’s end.But the branching of these trees deserves to be highlighted, we believe.To avoid the red blob look.A landscaper told me many years ago to not be afraid to prune these types of trees, that they will respond very well with graceful new branches fron the main stems. We had just purchased our first home in Tennessee, moving there from southern California with our family of six. The house sat on one acre of wooded land and came complete with a beautiful waterfall pond near the patio, a fern garden with stone pathways wandering through it and two mature weeping laceleaf Japanese maples, Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’. One was next to the back door and the other was along the steps up to the swimming pool. Both were visible from the road and were the showpieces of this professionally installed and maintained garden. The garden was one of the main reasons for us buying the house. I liked to garden, but really knew very little, if anything about design. The landscaper was retained for a while to help me learn how to take care of the property. I made a drawing and he built a raised herb garden with landscape timbers including a knot garden in the center on a hillside by the driveway. We quickly discovered this expense was too great and I felt I could manage the garden myself. Eventually I did learn to do so, after several years of trial and error. Near the end of our living in this idyllic place, offspring Semi, a senior in high school, had a secret New Year’s Eve party while The Financier and I and the younger kids went to a friend’s house for the same festivities. I became ill early that night, right after midnight and we came home to find the driveway and street at our house filled with cars, all the lights on, music blaring and teenagers everywhere. Without going into the gory details, a boy fell on the maple tree by the back door and broke the tree in half. I was heartsick and angry about this whole state of affairs but there is a happy ending. Besides Semi going away to college, Chickenpoet was already gone and the parties and general mayhem of teenagers had ceased. Gardoctor and Brokenbeat didn’t feel the need to be the hosts with the most at our house and we moved to Texas not long afterwards. But the damaged tree grew back with some cleaning up of the broken branches to be more beautiful than ever. In fact, people thought it had been pruned purposely in the Japanese style. Sometimes we told the story of the pruning, sometimes not.Residents of the pond, Casy and Fido are happy to get a little more light. Click here to read about the reincarnations of the pond.These are the good, the bad and the ugly of the cuts, along with the weapons of destruction. Upper left shows the felcos for small hands used for the smaller diameter branches and a pump action larger pruner for the big cuts. I use that only when the felcos and my own hand strength are just not able to cut the hard wood. The larger loppers lack the control needed and can sometimes even crack the wood. Upper right shows a good cut. What makes it good is the amount of wood left near the collar, just enough to form a nice scab for the wound. There is no peeling down of the bark, a bad thing, or cracking. This cut will heal nicely, nothing needs to be applied to help that process. The lower left is a branch that has been pruned too many times with the stubs longer than they should be. I will go back and take those down and smooth the edges to reduce die back that can result in insects entering and wreaking havoc inside the stem. The lower right shows an old cut that was not cleaned up with dead wood that broke off unevenly. This will have to be rounded with a pruning saw to prevent further dieback and aid healing of the wound. No matter whether they are pruned or not, this type of tree is one I cannot live without.
The first two photos are of A. ‘Crimson Queen’ on the daylily hill, before and after pruning. The next two shots are of A. ‘Crimson Queen’ on the left side of the pond, before and after pruning. This tree was purchased in Texas and brought to this house. The next two photos are of A. ‘Garnet’ on the right side on the pond before and after. The final shot is Garnet before pruning. This tree was purchased at a nursery in the town of the Tennessee home spoken of in the above story as a fairly large specimen. We bought it to plant at the Texas house. It barely fit into the minivan, and was severely pruned to get into the back in the back. We discovered that those types of trees are not happy in Houston. It was dug back up, repotted, pruned even more and transported back to this house while the girls were living here. It remained in the pot at the side of the house for three years before we moved here and it was planted on the hill, at an angle to drape over the pond. It has grown so much that it was blocking the pond and shading the fish too much. It may need more pruning.
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