LIVING OFF THE LAND
Dec. 23, 1997
Behind the Christmas tree
By GREG HARMAN
Evergreen trees have been used throughout history as a
The Romans hung small metal bits on their branches during
In ancient Egypt, evergreens were brought indoors in
How did this pagan ritual come to be incorporated in
And there is also the colorful German myth of Saint Winifred
Saint Winifred, out to show up the old gods, chopped down
The zealous saint Winifred then gave the fir to his
It wasn't until the past 100 years or so that Christmas
First introduced by Hessian troops during the Revolutionary
Andrew Jackson was the first U.S. president to use a pine
Today, trees are grown in all fifty states for the annual
The Christmas tree industry employs over 100,000 full- and
Some of the most popular trees for Christmas are the Douglas
The Douglas Fir (pseudotsuga menziesii) may grow as high as
Largely because of their extremely thick bark that enables
This popular Christmas tree is exported as far away as the
The Fraser Fir (abies fraseri) was named for Scot botanist
Also known as "southern balsam" and "southern balsam fir,"
The Balsam Fir (abies balsamea) is a medium-sized tree,
These trees grow chiefly in cooler climates with abundant
Farming the trees is not easy. Not only do Christmas tree
Growers often must rely on income from another source during
Bryan tries hand at poinsettias
Buddy Bryan, owner of Bryan's Nursery, said that Christmas
There were times when he could sell 450 Christmas trees in a
Pruning West Texas shade trees and shrubs
By AUSTIN STOCKTON
Pruning is one horticultural activity that is poorly understood. It seems confusing but need not be so. The natural growth characteristics of the plant determine how and to what extent we manipulate shape and size by stem and limb removal. Pruning and training of ornamental plants begins with their initial placement in the landscape and must be carried out periodically as the need arises. This may be on an annual basis with some shrubs (tea roses) or seldomly done on trees such as the live oak.
Shrubs are generally pruned to dwarf them; we want to control plant size in this case. Severe hedging and very formal training are seen less and less in today's more natural landscapes. This not only gives a more informal presence to the landscape, but also reduces maintenance requirements. Specimen shrubs and small trees (pittosporum, redbud, mimosa, desert willow, etc.) are mainly pruned to increase attractiveness. Lower limbs may be removed to expose interesting bark or the trunk. Corrective pruning may be done to encourage growth in a certain direction, hide flaws or invigorate growth at a certain point. Remember that removing the tip portion of a shoot often causes increased new growth or invigoration along the stem below the cut.
This point brings us to the two most important types of pruning - thinning out and heading back (often called dehorning or topworking). Thinning out is entire branch removal; no stumps, stubs or nubs remain. Heading back constitutes everything from stem tip pinching to removal of major limb structure. The latter practice often leaves a stump, stub or nub. In almost every case, severe heading back is a poor pruning practice for shade trees. Regardless of being improper, heading back is a common practice in West Texas.
The results of severe heading back are less than desirable in the landscape. Limb stubs usually die and leave an ideal entry for insect and disease entry. This is unhealthy for the tree. Overall tree appearance is ruined by numerous dead stubs and if the unhealthy tree eventually dies, the dollar worth of the landscape declines.
Less severe heading back causes extreme invigoration near the cut portion of the limb. Multiple new shoots may arise from this area and grow 3-4 feet in a single season. In subsequent growing years these shoots criss-cross and form dense canopies. The shade produced by this canopy is often dense enough to prohibit turf grass establishment below the tree.
Thinning out instead of heading back eliminates these problems, particularly with the mulberry. If limb length must be reduced because of power line interference, make a cut adjacent to an existing lateral limb that is acceptable in length.
Proper tree and shrub pruning requires proper tools. Investments in pruning shears, lopping shears, bow saws and pole saws should be based on frequency and degree of pruning necessary to maintain the landscape. Generally, a good set of shears and a bow saw are adequate for the average home landscape. Pruning cuts should be smooth; surrounding bark is left in tact. Make cuts flush with a lateral remaining branch to avoid leaving stubs.
The following list will help determine plant parts that need to be removed:
1. Dead, dying and unsightly limbs.
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.