What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

eastern redbud pruning

on May 7, 2014

One of my favorite trees in our yard is an eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)—in my gravatar image, it blooms behind the Lady Eliza. Though redbuds are a common understory tree of the eastern US, our specimen sits beyond the canopy of mature oaks and hickories, right by the street. We suspect it is the despair of our postal carrier, because it’s trying to engulf our mailbox.

I rather like the redbud’s shrubby growth habit, with branches that sweep the ground. About them I invoke the Japanese landscape designers who say: let a thing be what it wants to be. Nimue answers that it’s hard to mow under. She is, of course, correct. Nevertheless, my pleas for those low branches won them reprieves from the pruning shears, until I finally had to admit it’s reaching past the right-of-way into the street. The redbud needed a haircut. So today it shed about a third of its lowest branches.

before and after

before and after

Sometimes what’s ideal isn’t for the best. That’s a hard thought for me to think. But I’ll practice trying it out on some other ambivalences in my life.

shedding style: prune
destination: the brush pile

Comments welcome … when is the perfect the enemy of the good? How do we know?


2 responses to “eastern redbud pruning

  1. I coppiced our red Coryllus avellana yesterday… I’m still feeling guilty about cutting it to the ground, but I know it will grow back and now it won’t escape the fruit cage I was stupid enough to plant it in. Pruning id really not my favourite job.

  2. revdarkwater says:

    Coppicing and pollarding are practiced much more in the UK, I think. I saw a lot of it artfully done in and around Oxford.

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