Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Amateur Arboriculturist

The past two evenings I have spent an unusual amount of time trimming trees . . . or should I say, a combination of trees and bushes--mostly those outside of yard that stick through and over the fence from my neighbor’s yard.  Especially in our backyard.  I have become quite adept at trimming trees and bushes.  I am even thinking that I could do this for a second career if the ministry doesn’t pan out.  But right now I have kept it to the amateur status . . . I am an amateur arboriculturist.

An arboriculturist, is a professional in the practice of arboriculture, which is the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants.   Also known as arborists generally focus on the health and safety of individual plants and trees.  I’m glad to know that there is an “official” name for this, I always thought I was whacking the heck out of my trees. 

We are the proud owners of eight lilac and two (what we call) burning bushes in our backyard.  In the front yard we have an aspen tree, an apple tree, and a crabapple tree.  Plus we have dozens of renegade saplings of every category imaginable . . . the upkeep on those are pretty simple.  I mow them down with the lawn mower.  It works!  But, for the most part though I have to trim the trees.  That is when I become an arboriculturist . . . or at least some guy who whacks the heck out of his trees.

Earlier this spring—if there is such a thing in Montana—I trimmed a few of the lower branches off of the aspen tree.  The aspen tree is my favorite tree and one of the reasons we bought our house—it is beautiful tree.  Because it is our favorite tree the wife had some reservations about me doing any trimming on it.  She imagined that I would whittle it down to a toothpick, but in the end it was perfect . . . it was shaped like a pencil.  No, I just took a few of the low hanging branches and trimmed them back so that we could actually get under them.  So far the tree has survived.

The crabapple tree has to be trimmed at least twice during the summer months as the branches hang low and scrape the car in the driveway.  Yesterday was the first “official” trimming of that tree.  On this one I use a real scientific method of trimming the branches down . . . I reach as high as I can, grab a branch, and whack it off.  It takes about an hour to whack down a major pile of brush, but it sure looks better and it give the birds in the neighborhood less roosting places from which they can poop on my vehicles.  It actually looks pretty darn good . . . even the wife agreed, toothpick shape and all.

Along the fence line our backyard is approximately fifty percent lilac bushes.  Only eight of them are actually in our yard along one fence line, the rest are in our neighbor’s yard.  The lilac bush is a fast growing, beautiful flowering bush—especially in the spring if the late freezes don’t get them.  This summer I trimmed our lilac bushes back to give us more room around our fire pit—looks nice.  The neighbor’s lilac bushes would look great if they didn’t grow through the fence, over the fence, and in our flower garden.  I trimmed these too . . . whacked them off to make our yard look good.  Not really sure that the neighbors know this as they can’t see the backside of the bushes.  But I reach through and over the fence whacking with abandon.  This usually produces an ample supply of fire pit fodder throughout the summer.  For that I thank my neighbors.

As an amateur arboriculturist I use a method similar to cutting hair.  I attempt to make sure that the whacking is even across the board.  So I find a focal point, make a cut, and then trim everything back to that point.  It was the same method that I used cutting my three sons’ hair.  That might explain the pained expression they had whenever I cut their hair . . . typically looked like someone was whacking branches out of trees.  But they survived . . . as you the only difference between a good haircut and a bad one is about three weeks.  As far as the bushes go . . . well, I have the only bushes in the neighborhood layered!

Now I am not sure that the birds and squirrels appreciate the care that I give to the trees and bushes as it removes a lot of their hiding places.  The squirrels really don’t care for it as it exposes them more to the elements.  The dogs love it because they can now see the squirrels trying to get to the bird feeders.  I just think of it as leveling the playing field.  Also, it helps keep the squirrels skinny as they have to run from the dogs a lot more.  But that is the price that nature has to pay in order for us to have a nicer looking yard.

My amateur arboriculturist endeavors leaves me satisfied for the most part.  That satisfaction comes from being able to see something accomplished even if it is a naked tree.  The wife usually quits crying in a day or two afterwards.  The birds and squirrels get eventually get over it as the growth comes back.  It is satisfying and maybe when I retire I will volunteer to do all the trees and bushes in the neighborhood.  The wife is already encouraging me to do it now . . . she sees it as a reprieve for our trees and bushes.  I don’t know . . . an arboriculturist—amateur or not—is an art and I am not quite there yet.  I have the toothpick to prove it!

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