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The Pruning of Trees

tree, top, pruned, natures and limbs

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In the widest sense pruning is the removal of any part of a plant for any purpose. In the first place. pruning may be performed in order to benefit remaining parts. This is pruning. as commonly defined ; its object is more and better fruit or flowers. Second, a plant may be pruned to give it some desired shape; for example, the shearing of ever green hedges. This is really trimming, rather than pruning. Third, a. tree may be pruned in order to train it into a habit of growth which it does not naturally follow ; for example, peach trees are trained like vines against south walls in England in order to produce fancy fruit in a country ‘•hose season is unfavorable for peach orchards. This is train.. inn/, rather than pruning. The word praniny is commonly strained to include the removal of dead wood.

Sentiment rs. Sentimentality. It hurts sonic of us to see a tree cut down, or pruned. Pruning has been called tree-»inler and arbwicide. Those who are opposed to the nse of the axe. saw or shears under any circumstances are extremists, though they may not realize it. Their feeling is not common sense, but mere sentimentality. Of course, trees are often injured by careless and excessive pruning, and this fact has led some people to jump at the conclusion that pruning is in itself a harmful practice. They say, •• It is unnatural ; it injures the tree." is pruning/ nnnatural ? In every tree top you can see that a constant struggle goes on among buds and leaves and brandies. There is it never ending contest for room and light and air. The result is the survival of the few and the failure of the many. The victory is to the strung. The ground is strewn with debris. Under the bark are pruning records in the form of knots. They are the buried stubs of all the branches that tried to grow but gave it up. In the top of the tree, dead and broken brandies are found. All these are proofs that Nature prunes without mercy. sentiment or intelligence. Nevertheless. it was probably Nature's own suggestion that set man to pruning in the beginning.

Is pruning i)jurious? There is an amiable fallacy afloat to the effect that Nature's way is always best. It sounds well. Let us apply it to pruning. Dead and broken limbs in trees of Nature's pruning are avenues by which disease germs enter and attack the wood. Nature lets the tree and the fungi fight their battle. But man is a partisan. Ile defends his trees against their enemies by keeping them free from dead and lacerated limbs. When lie prunes. he makes close, smooth wounds, and covers them while they heal to keep out fungi. Ile considers Nature's method very bad pruning.

Experience proves that trees which are properly pruned gain instead of lose in vigor and health. Trees do not suffer any shock. in the sense that animals do, from the loss of limbs. Their brandies are competing individuals. rather than organs, or members that cannot be replaced. Trees have uo central seat of life. They do nut bleed to death. The taking off of parts leaves the rest more room and more food. It is a distinct advantage. The precaution of making clean, smooth wounds and cover ing them to protect against inoculation by germs of disease is all that is necessary to make pruning not only safe but beneficial. Few trees which are let alone are perfectly sound. 'Happily, most of their superfluous limbs die young and fall, leaving very small wounds, which close in a short time.

Soine Principles of Pruning. Pruning is an old practice reduced by fruit growers to an art. It is based on a few fundamental principles. _Here are some of them: I. _Pruning of roots lessens the food supply sent to the top, and so lessens the growth of the top. It follows, therefore, that in transplant ing a tree, we should prune the top somewhat because we have pruned the roots in digging up the tree, and it is necessary to restore a certain balance between rout and top.

Pruning of the top invigorates the growth. of the branches that remain. The supply of sap from the roots is undiminished, hence the share of each remaining branch is greater.

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