Friday, 21 March 2014

Strip the Willow... it's Pollarding time

It's time for a particular Willow in my care to have its annual pollarding, which I normally do every year (as you would expect for an "annual" prune, ha ha). Except that I didn't get around to it last year, so it's a bit hefty. But no matter, with my trusty bowsaw, my loppers, and my extending saw, I bravely went forth this morning, to do battle.

What is pollarding? It is the rather drastic pruning of a shrub or tree, at the same height every time it is done, either for ornamental purposes, or for promoting long straight growths at the selected height, usually for use as a crop.

Pollarding and coppicing are the same thing at different heights, in case you've ever wondered: coppicing is ankle height, pollarding is usually somewhat above head height, or - in urban streets - at about lamppost height.

As well as producing the required new growth, it keeps the tree or shrub down to a manageable size, and extends the life of the plant almost indefinitely - a regularly coppiced tree will never die of old age.

In this case, it's ornamental, as the Willow would otherwise get so large that it would obstruct the view of the lake from the front lawn, so most years I chop off all the long growth, opening up the view and promoting a flush of new, fresh growth.

There is a minor complication in that the tree is growing right on the edge of the lake, so I can only get to it from one side. This means that some of my pruning cuts are a bit ragged, as I am leaning precariously and having to cut at whatever angle presents itself, but as it's only Crack Willow (Salix fragilis) I don't worry too much about it.

Here is before, looking pretty in the early morning sun:

And here is "after":

My client appeared as I was halfway through, and commented "We always know where you have been!"

As usual, it took me longer to clear away the mess than to do the work: here's a sort-of panoramic shot of some of the off-cuts:

The bonfire pile is now huge again, but I have tucked the thick straight poles behind the pump house, in case they come in useful...

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