Thursday, April 23, 2020

Pruning the smallest arctostaphylos in the front garden

I sort of backed into this project. Do you ever do that? Not plan to tackle something, but find yourself doing it anyway?

When I shared last summer's photos of the garden I mentioned needing to prune the arctostaphylos that blocks the view of the front door from the sidewalk—so the project was definitely on my mind. Then one morning last week, clippers in hand I started snipping and sawing, of course by the time I went to get the saw I was fully committed. Here's that photo from last August...

Because I didn't plan to do this job all I have to show for it—both befores and afters—are a few bad phone photos, and the light that morning was odd. I think the plant I was working on is an Arctostaphylos 'Monica', a gift from Mr Hogan and his Cistus Nursery many years ago. It was about 5" tall then. Now, well, it's much bigger...

That (above) was the first before, here's the first after...

I took off so much material, at least three large buckets full and several large branches. My goal was to expose the lower branching structure, here's another after...




And after, I think this pairing (before and after) might be the best at showing the difference. I cut a lot of the lower brances that were inward facing, and also cut a couple of them right at the bottom...

... this one for example. The others had a gentle curve to them, where as this one grew right up the center of the shrub, completely straight. Bye bye...

This is the best photo of all, which I don't even remember taking. Here we're looking at 'Monica' through the branches of 'Austin'. Austin has become quite the handsome fellow and I am thrilled to think Monica is on her way to her own unique beauty.

Weather Diary, Apr 22: Hi 60, Low 49/ Precip .25

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Looking good, Loree! You really know what you're doing. I definitely do that--start a project that I wasn't planning on doing. Often it means I don't get my higher-priority list accomplished, but I'm almost always glad I was distracted--when I look back on the decision. I'm getting better at pruning shrubs, but I find it very challenging. Although it can be calming, too, at times. Great job!

  2. That's exactly how most of my projects come about - and why I seldom have before and after shots. I'm especially impressed at your pruning job give the plant's apparent proximity to an Opuntia!

  3. They have such beautiful bark - polished beauty!

  4. 'Monica' is a beauty, as is 'Austin'. You did a fine pruning job there. The shot through Austin's branches is excellent.

    You used your time very well.

  5. A job well done. When pruning, knowing when to stop is half the battle. I've become less sentimental with my cuts over the years... I prefer the "open" look to the un-penetrable one, and despite the occasional "oops" I feel more comfortable pruning away. A very calming activity.

  6. Always seems to be hard to start pruning a woody when it's so healthy but you've just shown how much lighter it's presence in the garden is. The fact that both Austin and Monica have such rich coloured bark is a huge incentive to open them up a bit.

  7. Aah...the bark is the thing with Arco's for me so that last photo stirs my soul. Good job!

  8. You're a pro! I thought it already looked pretty good in the before shots but so much lighter and elegant in the after shots.


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