Crown Lifting: The Key to Being Queen Custodian to a Doug Fir in the City

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There is nothing like lifting the crown of a huge evergreen tree when you live in the city.
After.
Before.

There are two Doug firs on this property and admittedly, they’ve not been tended to until recently. (This is the post from last spring about the Medusa-headed specimen on the south side of the house.)

After.
Before.

Now that the light is flooding in, I can reexamine what to do with what’s underneath the tree. I had been planning on doing a big makeover anyway to really tidy up the design so wish me luck! There will be many more posts to come…

After.
Before.

The Willow Arbor in Winter

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A week or so ago my husband trimmed up our willow arbor in the back garden. It is a task that we neglected to do last year and we paid heavily for it this year. Much of the growth that could have been harnessed for the structure’s integrity was lost, but next year, this won’t be the case. The arbor has been streamlined.
I’ve ordered a super sized tarp to temporarily cover the arbor for a spell this winter. We have so little space indoors at times, and only a small front porch, so it seemed important to do so.
The tarp will be red. I love the color and it always looks nice with green. I just did not want a blue tarp.
Maybe if I pull out the fire pit I can sit beside it and warm up as I work on winter garden tasks. I’ve been so busy indoors that I am beginning to want to go back outside again.
Next year, my plan is to have a nice fence to block more of the apartment building from our view. I am not a big fan of having folks that close. My childhood, surrounded by woods and water, spoiled me.

I love out willow arbor, don’t you? It’s 10′ x 10′ and the heart of our garden. Maybe it was a bit ugly for a few years, but when it’s covered in Clematis blooms and the branches sway and block the bright sun, it’s simply heavenly.

The Many Headed Medusa Tree (How NOT to Prune a Doug Fir Tree)

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Before we left for Seattle, we hired a landscaper friend to trim the large Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga mensiesii) between our house and the neighbors’. Years ago it was headed improperly so it has far too many heads. As you can see in the image below, one of these many heads was bending and growing dangerously near our house’s roof. With wind storms being rather common in the NW, this branch has been causing me a great deal of grief.

In the image below, you can see that the south side of our home now has a lot more light and the tree looks much better. A few nights ago we had some strong wind gusts and for the first time in 6 years, I didn’t hear a peep from our tree dropping stuff on the roof.
We had the canopy lifted too and that is probably the greatest benefit. I cannot wait to watch things grow like crazy this season.
In this image from before the trim you can see how messy our multi-headed tree looked. The big thick branch/head on the far right is the one that was growing toward our house. It was really thick and growing so unnaturally. You can see why I was so stressed.
Afterwards, the tree clearly looked a lot better. I still hate its many heads, but for now, they are all healthy, so I will leave them alone.

Good Shrub Cut, Bad Shrub Cut

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Here are a few ideas for those of you out there who have the patience to train shrubs, and for those with a sense of humor, I’ve included the last example.

This is an amazing yew I found one day when I had to park and then walk to a nearby pharmacy for a special compounded medication for my swelling disease. To say the least, the charm of this bush dismissed my irksome mood concerning the steroids. It is simply an area most people would ignore, on the north side of an old auto dealership building, and this is what they’ve done with it. It still makes me smile.

This little archway has amazed me for years. I first noticed it when we moved to the neighborhood almost 6 years ago. Again, this is a yew, but this time the front of the building is facing west so it gets more sun than the dealership. I have yews in my garden, and it is likely that I will do this with my narrow yews someday, but it will have to be added to that long list of things to do. Lucky for me they are still large enough for me to move with ease, and I’m young-ish. Yews do grow slowly.
Lastly, there is this yard. It too is in the neighborhood and is down the block from the last one. Why would you do this, right!?! This has to be one of the lowest maintenance looks I have ever seen, except those trims probably take awhile. The shrubs are never allowed to grow together and are trimmed so that there is always space between the bushes. At least it’s drought tolerant.

Trimming the Living Willow Garden

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The other day I was finally trimming the living willow arbor out back and I noticed some funny things. First off, this tube in the photo now has tree growth growing around it. I could cut the tube out, but I think I’ll leave it there. (It could be worse. It could be a bicycle growing in a tree like on Vashon Island.) Anyway, there is a fear that I have. It could become diseased, but I think that I will just let it go. In addition, a few branches have already start to graft to one another with no human intervention. It is scary to think that the four trees will eventually become “one” with one another, but so it goes… If I lose one at that point, I guess I will lose them all. Anyone else out there have a living willow structure that they care about? Any advice?