Wednesday 21 March 2012

Taille tôt, taille tard:

Rien ne vaut la taille de mars !

The saying here is 'Prune early, prune late: nothing beats pruning in March'. Strictly speaking it refers to the all important vines, but home gardeners will quote it at every opportunity at this time of year.

Tree pruning in particular is in full swing in Preuilly and the other day I spotted the father of one of our neighbour's up a ladder with loppers and a hatchet. And yes, he is climbing a tree whilst wearing rubber boots!

This particular tree is a Common Lime (Linden) Tilia x europaea. It is pruned like this every two years, keeping it just the right size to provide shade over the small terrace it stands next to. Non-Europeans are usually horrified at this type of highly interventionist style of gardening. They don't like to see nature so rigidly controlled and find the pollarded branches ugly.

The prunings are neatly bundled
and saved for next year's kindling.
The counter to this is that this tree remains manageable because it is regularly pruned. It is healthy too, because it never develops a huge head to be buffetted by the wind and drain all the moisture the roots can suck up. It will live maybe three times as long as an unpollarded tree, and in the summer its green lollipop shape is ideal for the smaller garden.


If you are interested, I wrote more extensively on the practice of pollarding trees a couple of years ago here.


Leon Sims said...

Due to our travels in France Susan, I'm heavily influenced by this method of tree pruning. I have one tree that I do this to every year - I'll post on it soon as Autumn is approaching.
And I also like prunes, but that's another story.

chm said...

Hi Susan,
Before I read about it some time ago in one of your blogs, I had no idea that pollarded trees lived much longer than unpollarded ones. Your explanation is very clear and it makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

I still don’t like “jardins à la française” but that’s just me. Too geometrical, not enough “fantaisie.”

Tim said...

In the UK people are truly scared about pollarding... there is not enough general knowledge of what pollarding [and for that matter coppicing] does for trees and the environment. We wouldn't have such trees as The Major Oak in the UK if it hadn't been pollarded.... it is now dying through 'kindness' because, as it is a tourist attraction, they just won't touch it... a great shame seeing a magnificent old oak slowly rotting.
We wouldn't have the wonderful wiews of churches and colleges in Cambridge across the pollared willow edged meadows... and again, as here in France, they are being allowed to grow too tall, break, rot and fall.... because it is too expensive to do the work. Most councils have got rid of their "Parks and Gardens" departments so have to 'buy in' private contractors. At around 60€ [£50] per hour... 1997 prices... and a days work for one man to properly pollard an established willow... and tidy up after... near 500€ per tree... and the meadow in front of King College, Cambridge has over one hundred fine pollards... to my knowledge these haven't been worked on since the seventies... they are at least ten years overdue a trim! The ones I did here[blogged about here] were 40 years old, had already damaged two of the trees and took two people, two to three days to pollard. I was felling 40 year old Crack Willow ten foot off the ground... it wasn't fun!!

Susan said...

Tim: thanks for the interesting figures. It took Ghiselaine's dad most of the day to do this tree and tidy up, as you say.

Pearl said...

oh, a linden. I walked past a shape like that near here, already pruned, and wondered what it was. it sure looks different in summer.

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