Not my shame of course; but that of the trees in the pictures below.

Do not try this at home. I only did it because I am a horticulturist and arborist; and I happen to be one of the last arborists in America who condones coppicing and pollarding, which are depicted here.

Coppicing is cutting trees or shrubbery down to the ground annually, or at least regularly every few years or so. Some coppiced trees form basal burls or lignotubers. Some just form thicket growth that replaces itself after getting coppiced back to the ground.

Pollarding is similar to coppicing, but rather than cutting all growth back to a stump or stumps at ground level, it involves pruning all growth back to the same distended knuckles at the ends of a few main limbs annually, or at least regularly every few years or so. It is done in such a manner that the pruning wounds are compartmentalized by the new growth of the following year. Knuckles can be elongated by leaving single short stubs.

There are a few reasons for coppicing and pollarding. Some subjects develop an abundance of appealingly lush foliage. Some develop an abundance of appealing or useful twiggy growth. Coppiced red twig dogwoods are much twiggier and more colorful while bare in winter. Pollarded or coppiced willows produce an abundance of canes for basketry. White mulberries are pollarded to provide an abundance of lush foliage to feed silkworms.

I coppiced a Eucalyptus globulus ‘Compacta’ and pollarded a Eucalyptus globulus for two main reasons. Both are such problematic trees that I do not want to plant either into the ground, so must keep them contained. Also, I want the remarkably aromatic juvenile foliage that develops in response to coppicing and pollarding.

1. Eucalyptus globulus ‘Compacta’ coppiced stump. It is not such a great example of a coppiced stump, since the tree did not grow enough two years ago to get coppiced last year. Consequently, the few main trunks that were just recently coppiced are already starting to form their own separate lignotubers on top of the original, which is now rotting below. Soon enough, they will fuse to form a single lignotuber, concealing the evidence.P90601

2. Eucalyptus globulus ‘Compacta’ before getting coppiced. It is quite small for a specimen that was not coppiced last year.P90601+

3. Eucalyptus globulus ‘Compacta’ after getting coppiced. Rhody is not impressed.P90601++

4. Eucalyptus cinerea in need of pollarding. This tree grew too big too fast to survive any longer in the relatively small #15 (15 gallon) can. Fortunately, in just a few days, it will instead get installed into a landscape where it can disperse roots and mature into a normal unpollarded tree. After a few years, it might get pollarded anyway, just to produce silvery juvenile foliage withing reach of the ground, but that is not a concern just yet.P90601+++

5. Eucalyptus globulus pollarded knuckle. This is only the second pollarding procedure for this subject. The first procedure involved lopping the lanky single trunk off right here where the knuckle is now. The multiple limbs that developed were just recently lopped off, leaving this distended knuckle to repeat the process, hopefully annually.P90601++++

6. Eucalyptus globulus pollarded trunk. This is why Eucalyptus globulus should not get pollarded! They look ridiculous if deprived of their naturally elegant form. They do not look much more dignified with multiple pollarded limbs. Oh, the shame!P90601+++++

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:


13 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Oh, The Shame!

    1. Chestnuts are more adaptable to pollarding because they can be pollarded back to multiple trunks, or even pollarded back to a single main trunk (like this Eucalyptus globulus) in order to produce multiple limbs. They are so strong that, if pollarded while young, can mature into a normal unpollarded tree as if nothing ever happened. (If pollarded while mature, they will likely develop structural deficiencies if not pollarded regularly afterward.)
      Eucalyptus globulus is the very fast, very big and very structurally deficient eucalyptus that gives all others a bad reputation. I do not recommend it either for pollarding or for growing in confinement (pots). Actually, I do not recommend it for ANYTHING! I just happen to really like it, and found this poor unfortunate seedling in a landscape somewhere. Not only must I pollard it to keep it contained, but I must remove it from the can and root prune it annually when it gets pollarded. I do not want it in the ground because it grows like a weed, and is difficult to kill.
      Although there are a few species of Eucalyptus that are relatively small, and a few of them are relatively tolerant to frost, I doubt that any would be happy where frost happens suddenly like it does in Zone 8a. Supposedly, Eucalyptus globulus tolerates frost, but I remember that many were damaged by the severe frost back in 1990, both because it was the worst frost in recorded history here, and also (probably) because it happened so suddenly. However, if you grew a small species in a large pot, you could bring it to a sheltered spot for winter, especially if you coppiced or pollarded it before moving it. In a container, it would occasionally need to be removed from the container for root pruning. You should be aware though that eucalyptus produce only juvenile foliage immediately after being pollarded. This is an advantage if you want the more colorful and more aromatic juvenile foliage, but a disadvantage if you want the adult foliage and flowers. I happen to like the remarkably aromatic juvenile foliage of my Eucalyptus globulus, but I also happen to like the elongated lanceolate adult leaves and flowers too. I can’t grow both.
      Eucalyptus neglecta happens to be a small eucalyptus that happens to also be ‘relatively’ tolerant to frost. It looks nothing like my Eucalyptus globulus, and is not as aromatic, but is actually a much more handsome tree, and is reasonably aromatic. Also, because it stays relatively small and shrubby, it can be pruned in a more conventional manner, albeit aggressively, rather than pollarded or coppiced. The pruning style could be determined by how you want it to behave. For example, if you prefer the more colorful and more aromatic juvenile foliage, you could certainly pollard or coppice it. I believe that Eucalyptus neglecta and cultivars of it happen to be some of the more readily available of the Eucalyptus.

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      1. Thank you for all your advice, Tony. This is the first time I have a comment as long (but very informative, thank you again).
        About chestnut , I had to choose between 6 when it was pollarding and now I have a beautiful specimen that grows among 10 mature trees
        About eucalyptus, I will follow your advice and see what will be good in my area. I have always loved the smell of eucalyptus and their bark

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Do you mean that you selected one of six chestnut trees, and that more grew in later?
        If you know the aroma of eucalyptus from essential oil, the oil is derived from blue gum, which is the problematically big eucalyptus that I described earlier, and the one that I pollarded. It has the strongest aroma. The others are not quite as strongly aromatic, but all are aromatic in their own way. Each species has a distinct aroma. Eucalyptus neglecta happens to have an aroma that is very similar to that of the blue gum.
        Incidentally, you might want to look up pictures of Eucalyptus deglupta because the bark is so compelling. I do not recommend this species because it is too sensitive to frost even for our climate, but it is something to see.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. We planted a Eucalyptus in our old garden which I was determined to keep low, but I don’t know if the people who bought our house have done so. I do like them for their foliage – do you think it is possible to keep them small in a garden? I am also currently considering buying a very small Pinus – apparently they are incredibly slow growing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you should see my reply to Fredgardener. He just asked the same.
      The smallest of the (relatively) available pines is the mugo pine. It really is as slow as everyone says it is. It grows as a low rounded shrub.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Would coppicing work on hibiscus. I have a very old plant that has lost its shape and has become woody and knurled.

    I cut the hydrangeas all back to ground level last year, covered with soil and all new stems have grown and it is already producing buds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pollarding or coppicing in the classic sense would not work for hibiscus. Members of that family would not form knuckles if pruned back annually. However, they can be renovated by pruning back severely, if it is done only when necessary, rather than annually or every few years. If possible, I would recommend pruning out all the congested inner growth and most of the outer growth, but leaving part of the viable out growth until new shoots develop on the newly exposed inner stems. As inner growth develop, you can prune back to it. New growth needs to be sheltered more than old growth, at lest until it matures a bit. Alternatively, you can pollard them, and clean out all the congested growth in the process. I would recommend this only if it is the only options, since it can actually kill a hibiscus. Also, I would recommend doing it soon, so that it has time to mature through summer. New growth takes a while to bloom.
      Although hydrangeas can be coppiced, I recommend pruning them back in winter, but leaving new canes from the previous year. Stems that develop from these canes are what blooms the following year. If you cut them all down, they may take a while to bloom, or may not even bloom untill the following year. If coppiced annually, they may never bloom.

      Liked by 1 person

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