Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2014 14:47:43 -0500
From: Tom Glendinning
Subject: Crepe Myrtle & Tree Pruning
The practice of deep, structural pruning may be confused with “topping.” In the case of the Pittsboro hollies, the pruning was done to achieve shape and size proper to the location and purpose of the trees. These plants are not standing alone in a field or in a forest. They were well pruned and recovered beautifully. Somehow, they know what to do on their own.
The practice of “pollarding” may look like topping, but is not the same. It respects the structure and shape of the tree while reducing its size to the location demands. This level of pruning is required every so often with street trees and in urban sites. Pollarding has been used to manage landscape plants in Europe for centuries. The Plane Tree (Sycamore) is planted for this purpose, among other genus.
As with many things in our current society, objects are too often the recipients of transference or personalization. If we were to deny landscape use of plants, we would have to visit them in their natural environment. There would be no landscaped yards, cities and parks. And there would be no use for landscapers, landscape architects, arborists, urban foresters, garden centers, or nurseries.
Proper pruning has many interpretations. The main one is to respect the function while not endangering the health or survival of the tree/plant. If the tree is harmed by pruning or maintenance, it was the wrong one for that location and should not have been planted. We do, however, like to see trees and shrubs in our urbanized lifestyle. So we are obliged to maintain them as best we can. Sometimes the measures are drastic.
PS: Crepe Mrytles are an African plant and can survive an awful lot of stress. They do bloom more abundantly after pruning. That bloom is a survival response to the stress of pruning.