Winter has always been a good time to prune and a mild winter is made for it.
Trees are Here in Winter, Just Quieter…
I like to see the beauty of trees in winter. These long lived friends are still here for us, just quieter. This is the time of winter wisdom.
Pruning Deadwood is a Powerful Health Practice
Even the healthiest tree has some deadwood. Internal deadwood is natural, usually caused by shade. Every dead branch, no longer part of the functioning system, should be pruned off. Pruning deadwood is a powerful health practice that prevents decay. I love pruning in winter and seeing the beautiful shaped bounty in the spring.
Dead Branches Have Two Visual Clues That are Easy For You to Learn
Absence of Healthy Buds:
- Healthy buds are plump and when opened contain the miniature first green leaves. This is another miracle of tree intelligence, similar to the embryo in the seed. Trees are very good at being prepared for what comes next. The bud is an amazing structure which takes the entire previous growing season to fully form. They begin as a tiny green node in the axis of every leaf. As summer advances the bud is completed and finally gets its durable winter coat we call the bud scales. It is these healthy buds that get through winter and are ready at first call of spring to begin again.
- Dry dead buds are small, dull and shriveled looking. When opened there is no green inside.
Condition of The Bark:
- The other symptom of a dead branch is the condition of the bark. Dead or dying branches are many times a different shade of color than their healthy brothers and sisters. As important as color is the texture; dead branches often have peeling or even missing bark. These two visual keys are easily learned and proper winter pruning becomes natural, especially without the leaves present.
Off-Season Rates on Now
I am around this winter and not camping in the desert as usual. The mild conditions seem to be with us this year, perhaps payback for two serious winters in a row. This is our off-season, most people think trees can only be pruned in the summer, not so, winter is a excellent time to prune.
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I hope you enjoy your winter.
Kevin Lee (Calgary Arborist)