Monday, August 5, 2013

Pruning Continues At The Bamboo Lagoon

Happy pruned Japanese maple
We are in the midst of some heavy smoke from local wildfires, and this has limited how much outdoor activity can occur. A couple of days before our most recent yardwaste pickup, I was able to get out and prune the little Japanese maple we have in front. It had a lot of growth sprouting from the top, throwing the shape off and then the branches were getting too long at the bottom so that it was touching the ground, which is not healthy for these little guys. So I took to it with the clippers and I am sure the pruning has made it feel so much better.

Broken branch
As you know from other posts, we have two Purple Plum trees in the yard. One in back and one in front. This year, for some reason, there is an abundance of plums on the front one, to the point that the branches are very heavily weighed down. I have been picking the plums as fast as I can and continue to be surprised that the birds haven't beaten me to them. I have been worried for a while that we would lose a branch or two (we actually lost one while I was out of town in June, and the plums weren't even ripe yet). The image to the left is what I saw when I came around the house this morning while working on some other things in the yard. At some point during the night, we lost a relatively large branch on one side of the tree. I was pretty sure it was due to four legged critters during the night, and this was confirmed by fur evidence on the tree trunk and the on the branch.

We really needed to mow while we had a small reprieve from the smoke for a few days, but obviously that wasn't going to happen with the branch hanging down, and I didn't want to the branch completely off the tree until I had salvaged what I could plum-wise. So I went indoors to get a colander and a bowl for picking, and proceeded to pick and pick and pick from both the tree and the broken branch until I felt that the waste had been reduced. I then proceeded to prune the branch off, cutting it into small bits while I went so as to not make a huge mess, and get it all into the yardwaste bin for the next pickup. While I had all the tools out, I pruned some of the rest of the tree to hopefully avoid more breakage, and tackled a few other spots in the yard where suckers were coming up.

Thank goodness these are yard shorts
After all the pruning was done, I got the mower out and started the fun task of mowing our very hilly front yard. I should mention that it was about 97 degrees out, and I hadn't eaten in 5 hours. I was only a few mins into the mowing when I could feel that I desperately needed to eat but I was determined to knock it out first. The way our yard is, I have figured out that it is easiest to start at the top, do all of it, and then mow in downward strokes over the edge of the hill to get the steepest parts done from the top. This requires letting the mower go as far as I can reach while still standing firmly at the top of the yard, and then using lots of upper body strength to pull the mower back up towards me to start over again a few inches over. While doing this, part of the time, I am under the plum tree. There were a lot of plums on the ground. On this wonderful occasion, my feet slipped on the plums right when the mower was at the farthest point away from me...and down I went onto my butt in a pile of overripe plums. The mower pulled me down the hill a bit, but I was able to get up, find sturdy ground, pull it back up towards me, all without letting go of the handle so it stayed on. I had to mow the rest of the yard with my butt looking like this but that is okay.

Once I was done, even though I was shaking with hunger, I felt a great sense of accomplishment because I knocked out everything I planned to do and the yard looked so much better. You can see in this pick that the plum tree looks kind of funny at the top, but that is because the heavy branches are still leaning to the sides. I was only able to prune off some of the lower stuff. Once the upper plums are eaten or drop on their own, the nice round shape will return.