Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Extreme tree pruning

The Dutch take tree pruning very seriously. They rack their trees all year round to make nice shapes for the few warm leafy months. I have photos from winter tree torture to the spring cutting and summer with the lovely shapes that are made when the trees are finally allowed to grow.


  1. This was (originally) done not for decorative purposes but because of the usefulness of those trees. Willows that are sown of at the top are called 'knotwilgen'
    and this particularly rigorous way of cutting encourages the tree to form more straigt and slender willowcanes, which are then harvested (which will then again encourage the tree to grow more of them). Nowadays willowcanes are no so much harvested because of their commercial use but because the knotwilg is iconic for the Dutch landscape.

    The agricultural practice of controlling woody plant growth by pruning and possibly grafting branches so that they grow in relatively flat planes (in english known as 'espalier' is known in the Netherlands as creating 'leibomen' ( It is done with fruitrees agains a wall to provide warmth and shade to the tree, but in the Netherlands it's also done with trees in streets, in gardens or in front of farmhouses to provide shade or act as windbreakers without taking too much room. And they're pretty.

    Here ends the lesson for today.

    *grins and ducks to lurk again*


  2. (I mean, really... 'tree torture'?! The trees LOVE it! Trees are *so* into SM...)


  3. And if you need another term: I recently found out that two rows of trees in my street - which were growing a bit wildly - had had the ends of all their branches amputated and the top sawn off. The town gardeners explained that the trees would regrow in a much more orderly fashion, and said they had been "gekandelaberd" (so candelabred, in some sort of English). So far the only sign of remaining life has been that small tufts of green have reappeared.

    The saddest aspect is that all these trees will be uprooted next year as the road is being redesigned. New trees will be planted, of course, but not in the same place.

  4. Thank you Marion!! I was really lazy about doing any research after my google searches turned up nothing. The willowcanes history makes a lot of sense :)
    When I first saw the trees tied to racks, I thought it looked like some kind of torture instrument, but they are so lovely in the summer... and functional.

    And thanks Frits! Gekandelaberd. Cool word!

    I hope you both don't mind if I post the links and words in case people don't read comments?

  5. >>I hope you both don't mind if I post the links and words in case people don't read comments?<<

    Mind?! And here I was, fearing you'd think me pedantic, posting links to wikipedia and all :-)
    I so enjoy this blog. I only recently found out that my little country is fairly unique for its cycling infrastructure. Cycling is so *normal*, so pedestrian (no pun intended - okay, maybe just a little). Reading your blog lets me look at the 'normal' with fresh, new eyes, and turns it into special. Your 'journey of discovery' thus becomes *my* 'journey of discovery', and that is hugely fun.


  6. There are some trees that "appreciate" tree pruning, so perhaps the Dutch knew about this beforehand when they started doing this. Not only do they look good, but they cause the tree to be even better than non-pruned ones. Let's hope this idea catches on elsewhere!

    Mike Gurung @ Bay Area Tree Specialists