I got most of my spring pruning done today. The tools I used were small, bypass pruners; large, lopping pruners; and a Japanese saw. All of these tools are able to make a clean cut if they are sharp; I had to sharpen both pruners before I could use them. I also soaked the pruners in bleach solution for a few minutes, then rinsed them with water, before using them on each type of tree or shrub. This is to prevent the spread of disease.
First, I pruned the ‘north star’ cherry tree. The goal with this fruit tree is to remove branches that are growing up or into the center so that light and air can reach all the branches that remain. I had to remove a lot of branches but as they were all pretty small, I could use the small, bypass pruners. Since the cherry tree was already blooming, I had some bees keeping me company. One bumblebee wanted to collect pollen from flowers on the branches that I had just removed. You can see before-and-after photos of the cherry tree in my post about pruning it from 2013.
Like the cherry, the ‘redhaven’ peach tree is pruned to an open-center vase shape. I had to use the saw to remove some fairly large branches that died over the winter. Other than that, there were only a few small, living branches that were out of place. The peach tree hasn’t been growing vigorously for the past few years and it looks older than it is. I fear it won’t last much longer.
As usual, I collected all the branches from the cherry and peach trees to use with my smoker. I laid them on an old window screen to dry.
Next, I pruned the blackberry brambles. I removed the canes that produced fruit last year as those are now dead. I shortened the new canes so they are a little higher than my five feet (1.5 m) tall trellis, and docked their side branches so they were about a foot (30 cm) long. I used the lopping pruners for this job. More information and photos can be found in my blackberry pruning post from 2013.
I also removed some dead branches from a few of my ornamental shrubs. The purple-flowering azalea that lost some branches last year had more dead branches this spring. I think it was damaged by the lightning that hit a tree in September, 2013. I had to use the lopping pruners and the saw for tse large branches.
The seven ‘ruby’ meidiland roses also lost a lot of branches this winter. I cut off everything that was dead, and trimmed any stems that would interfere with the cherry tree or mowing, or that looked too gangly. I used the lopping pruners to cut the thick stems and give myself a little distance from the thorns. I removed more than I left, but I’m sure that these tough roses will grow back.
There were a few dead branches on my Japanese holly ‘sky pencil’ shrubs. I didn’t need a tool as the dead branches just broke off in my hand. I thought that nothing was eating the small, dark berries that these non-native shrubs produce, but recently I saw a northern mockingbird perched in one shrub and eating the berries.