Friday, May 30, 2008

Open Source Garden Advice

We've got the keys to the New House now, which is so exciting that I started hyperventilating outside Pizza Express earlier and some skater boys looked at me as if I was some kind of dangerous nutter.

Anyway! There's a tree in the garden that we want to cut back a bit, as it's draping itself all over everything...but we don't know what it is. Does anyone recognise it from the below photos, and if so, do you know if we can prune it a bit?

'The branches are kind of corkscrewy,' adds Mr BC. It's a bit like a weeping willow, only it isn't a weeping willow. Here it is from another angle:

Any and all suggestions gratefully received!


chatterbox said...

Well it looks very pretty if a bit Old English Sheepdog -ish.

According to my gardening book willows (including corkscrew types) should be pruned whilst dormant, but I'd give it a bit of a haircut anyway.

You might prefer to wait until someone who knows what they are talking about comes along though.

Morgan said...

Could it be a If so, yes indeed you can prune back without killing it but not when in leaf, wait until it's dormant.

Morgan said...

the missing words there are "corkscrew filbert".

patroclus said...

Thanks Chatterbox and Morgan! Further research suggests it is a diminutive 'Peking' variety of a Salix babylonica 'Tortuosa', or twisted willow. We'll probably give it a bit of haircut now and then hack it about (I mean prune it prudently) in the winter.

Spinsterella said...

Hello P,

congrats on the house, it looks gorgeous.

I don't know about particular tree varieties, but at the beginning of every winter my landlord hacks the trees in our back garden (apple and plum) back to nothing.

They're all stumpy and sad-looking throughout the winter, then come spring they turn back into bloody lovely great green things again.

Loads of fruit in the autumn too, and that's in the middle of the city.

Belladona said...

Are you sure it's a willow? It could be a twisted hazel, it's hard to tell from those pics. According to my other half's tree surgeon, if it is you should only give it a good cut back when it has shed it's leaves. At other times you can trim it very lightly but no more.

devolutionary said...

Her Outdoors thinks it could be a twisted willow or a hazel.

Other people have said: "Don't do anything with a garden for a year". An idea supported by a Steve of mine who said an ugly clutch of trees (he was going to kill) in his new garden turned into a glorious blaze of gold (he will no longer kill) that sustained him through a dark patch of winter. That's suburbiton for you.

rockmother said...

Hello - I am one of the dormant bloggers according to the list - not dormant just hiding - straightaway to me it looked like a laburnam possibly - I'll go and put my glasses on and have another look - I am probably most incredibly wrong....x

Sean McManus said...

No idea on the tree, I'm afraid, but congratulations on the move!

patroclus said...

Thanks again everyone, it is indeed a twisted willow. Mr BC took matters into his own hands and 'trimmed' it while I was otherwise occupied. I hope it will survive. He has form, after all.

RoMo: If you're on the list, I don't consider you as dormant, don't worry!

Anonymous said...

the leaves look too narrow for corylus. i was wondering if it was pyrus salicifolia - but if the stems/branches are twisty, the i reckon it is a salix of some kind. is the ground damp there? salix are very good at sucking up loads of water if the soil is waterlogged. but if you're on clay, for example, it can be too much ... and it's quite close to the house! (which looks lovely, btw)

cello said...

Where was I in your hour of need? Cavorting up and down the flipping Via Veneto, that's where.

Anyway, as you have established, it's a twisted willow. Rivergirlie is right; it needs loads of water and might just deprive everything else in the garden of moisture - and light, as it's pretty big. But dangerous to remove it without doing some investigation first, just in case it's fulfilling the important role of soaking up excess water.

The general rule on pruning is, if you want to permanently reduce the size of the tree, cut back as the sap is falling viz in autumn. If you are pruning to stimulate more growth, cut when the sap is rising in spring.

It looks very established so you won't hurt it to trim it any time, and better to live with things for a while. You could progressively reduce it if you wanted, taking note of any change in the state of the ground as you do. Further advice available at any time (except when I'm on holiday).

Nigella Titchmarsh

patroclus said...

Thank you Rivergirlie and Cello. The ground is very wet, even with the willow doing its stuff. (It rains *a lot* here.) I think it is a diminutive 'Peking' variety so hopefully it won't be undermining the foundations. Shall keep an eye on it anyway.

llewtrah said...

Twisted willow - spawn of beelzebub. The roots get into drains. Mine caused a geyser when it infiltrated the water main in front of my house and the waterboard suggested it be removed as next time I'd be liable for the repair costs. Ditto the one in my back garden that had found a drain.

They aren't native and they are fast growing and a nuisance.