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Cercis - not just a tree!

  • Cercis - not just a tree!
  • Cercis - not just a tree!

Here's an interesting use of a plant in the "wrong" place: this is a Cercis (canadensis) (pronounced sir-kiss, by the way) which is normally a small to medium sized tree. Someone rather foolishly planted it below the kitchen window (!) and the owner could barely see to do the washing up, so I was asked to remove or reduce it.

As the leaves are rather lovely, being a plump heart-shape with an elegant point, I thought I would try a form of coppicing, in order to encourage better foliage at eye level.

Accordingly, last spring, I cut all the main branches down to waist height, removed some of them altogether, and I brutally pruned off all the small branches, leaving just a short, drastically thinned-out skeleton of a shrub. It worked like a charm: last year we had a nice small bush, of lovely luxurious leaves, and washing up was once again easy to do.

Last autumn, I therefore pruned it again, removing all the new growth and taking it back to the skeleton.

This spring: just look! It has now produced flowers all over, even on the main trunk!

The owner was amazed, it had never flowered before: the previous gardener had only ever run a hedgetrimmer over it from time to time, when it got too dark to see in the kitchen.

So you can guess that I shall continue to prune this plant very hard indeed, in order to get a good show of flowers every spring, and to keep the leafy growth low enough to be enjoyable without obstructing the light.

It's still in the "wrong" place, but at least now we can enjoy it!

Comments (3)

  1. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Sue,

    The simple answer is yes, you can prune almost any tree to keep it small: just think of all those hedgerows up and down the country! Without the annual pruning, they would soon turn into rows of proper trees.

    Lime is possibly a bit vigorous to put next to dry stone walls, though...

  2. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Sue,

    It's a pity you don't live where I do - there are a line of massive Tilia just at the end of the road, so if I wanted Linden Tea, I could just stroll down there and pick the flowers!

  3. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    You and me both, Sue: my tiny back garden and equally tiny front yard are crammed with "things in pots" (shameless plug - Please Buy My Plants!) and yet I can't resist bringing home any poor sad orphans that I am told to dig up and throw away!

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