P91020P91020+It is amazing what just a few parishioners and friends can accomplish in just a few hours from about nine to noon on Saturday morning. It is only happens a few times through the year, so we make the most of it to catch up on all sorts of maintenance and projects at Felton Presbyterian Church. (My parish should do this sort of thing.) I was there to work in the minimal landscape.

I started working with this ‘Prairie Fire’ flowering crabapple several years ago. As I pruned for clearance above the adjacent parking spaces and patio, I retained lower growth in the space in between. The tree bloomed too nicely to unnecessarily remove all that was right where it was most visible. Besides, from the patio, it was more visually appealing than a view of parked cars.

Then, I missed a work day. There were plenty of volunteers. There were plenty of power tools. There was plenty of enthusiasm. There was no horticultural expertise. Someone decided that my once exemplary flowering crabapple was in need of pruning, so executed the task with power hedge shears. The damage is irreparable. Lower growth is gone. Upper growth is mutilated.

It was very discouraging. It was done out of season, so I could do nothing to start to repair the damage at the time. There was not much left to repair anyway. I could only let the tree grow through a season so that there would be something to work with later.

Well, this was later. I would have preferred to wait for complete defoliation, but the tree is starting to go dormant now, which is technically good enough. I also would have preferred to prune less away; but really wanted to remove as much of the disfigured growth as possible.

I am less than pleased with the results. With all the disfigured lower growth removed, only the new upper canopy remains. The tree got what my colleagues might refer to as an ‘Ethiopia cut’, which is what much taller trees in Ethiopia get when their lower growth gets eaten by giraffes. It will be a long recovery.

The upper picture is the ‘before’ picture. The bright sunlight at noon does not look so good in the lower ‘after’ picture. I mentioned the Work Day and an update in my other blog, Felton League.



14 thoughts on “Work Day Renovation Of A Flowering Crabapple

      1. Thank you. I saw it yesterday, and it did not bother me so much. If I look at it like an outsider, it looks fine, with tolerable disfigurement. I would not be aware of the previous intention of obscuring the view.

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    1. That used to be much of the work I used to do. When I was unable to do it, I could not find anther arborist to refer the work to! It is saddening that there are so few arborists in a region that was famous for orchards.

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    1. Even a well pruned crabapple takes some work to prune. They grow like thickets on a trunk. Severe pruning promotes more vigorous and well behaved canes, but also limits bloom. If I had my way, I would only ‘trim’ a crabapple to remove the inward growing canes that form the tangle, leaving outer limbs that are cooperating. A tree that is out of the way might be allowed to retain lower canopy, which displays the bloom best. (I had to prune my first crabapple up for clearance. It was still pretty, but would have been prettier with a round an full canopy.) Yes, they need quite a bit of pruning, but are prettier with less. I usually left a few canes that needed to be pruned out, so that I could cut them to bring in just before they bloomed. Also, I prefer to prune after the foliage hardens off in summer rather than in winter. It is best to prune them in winter like fruiting crabapples and apples, but because they are grown for bloom, I let the thicket growth bloom first before pruning it away. Trees continue to grow through the rest of summer, so do not miss what gets pruned out.


      1. An extra problem for our ‘Donald Wyman’ is that it was planted too close to the driveway so I also have to keep some of the branches above head-height. The branches seem to grow very, very long.

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      2. Pruning only makes them grow longer. It would be great if you were growing them for fruit production, and prune them hard annually, but such grown is not so desirable on a flowering tree.


      3. That is what I sort of dislike about them. I have worked with them since I was a kid, and have found that they often do not even respond to the best of pruning like I expect the to.

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