Put light where you want and where you need it. Make it beautiful and while allowing form to follow function, never allow beauty to be denied.

adapted form Richard C. Peters
 

Tree Pruning

Tree Pruning – In David’s Words

I came to lighting and aesthetic tree pruning at about the same time. In 1995 we purchased a New England Salt Box and 23 acres, 5 miles inland from the coast in York County Maine. 1998 was our move date. I was working at Schulkamp Electric in SF- exposed to some of the best lighting designers in the Bay Area, finishing my Advanced Certificates at the Horticultural Department at Merritt University in Oakland (Greenhouse Management, Construction and Maintenance, Design and the only program offering certification in aesthetic pruning) and thinking about how I was going to contribute to the Hill Road budget.

One day in a pruning class, we were talking about how a tree can demand someone’s attention by how it has been pruned and cared for. We can take a specimen tree and allow its full potential to show by carefully removing and sculpting the branching and foliage of the tree. We do something very similar with lighting, both indoors and out. We use light to set things apart, give them shadows and angles that increase their interest and again, demand our attention.

Trees provide a commanding portion of the bones and foundation of a garden. This is especially true in New England, where trees often have to be removed for us to even build. We love our gardens and we do love our trees. Almost all garden designs employ one to several specimen trees. They provide interest, focal points, a sense of establishment and age. We are especially fond of all those ornamental trees, which live more at our level then the giants whose scaffold branches might start several meters above our heads. We often want them so badly that we tell ourselves this will be perfect at 10 to 12 feet- let’s do it. After a couple of years of getting the roots truly established, the trees really begin to grow and we realize that they do not want to be kept at 12 feet.

It can be done. It takes time and patience and watching how the tree responds to our cuts. It would most likely be better if we just planted size appropriate trees- I, however, have become very fond of these rather large bonsai. It is a completely different insight into their structure, how the flowers rest on the tree and the overall visual effect.

Whenever I am pruning, I think of how light will travel up the trunk, hit the undersides of the branches, create shadows and generally fill the volume that is the tree. When lighting a tree, I am always aware of how dense the internal foliage is as well as the density of the canopy. The color and finish of the underside of the leaves is very important in creating a “ceiling” to reflect light back downwards- think the silver of some maple leaves. Of course, it is beneficial if some light does pass through the leaves, this translucence is just one of the reasons Japanese maple trees are so a challenge and an excitement to both prune and light.

Below is one of my favorite flowering dogwoods. It is approximately 35 years old. I have been working on it for 15 of those years. Its size threatened to obscure the view of the front door. Both its height and width have been reduced by 60%! It was take a chance or remove it, unfortunately, mine isn’t the only vote that counts at Hill Road.

 

Dogwood in summer.

Dogwood in summer.

Dogwood in summer- just prior to the rock wall.

Dogwood in summer- just prior to the rock wall.

Dogwood in the nude - prior to a late winter snow.

Dogwood in the nude – prior to a late winter snow.

Dogwood in a late winter wet snow- you can see all of buds clustered near the end of the branches.

Dogwood in a late winter wet snow- you can see all of buds clustered near the end of the branches.

The importance of maintaining proper height.

The importance of maintaining proper height.

 

Telescoping the importance of maintaining a proper height.

Telescoping the importance of maintaining a proper height.

This companion dogwood planted at the same time and standing 30 feet away and has not been size-maintained.  There would be no view of the front of the house when you emerge out of the forest and the house comes into view.

This companion dogwood planted at the same time and standing 30 feet away and has not been size-maintained. There would be no view of the front of the house when you emerge out of the forest and the house comes into view.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
posted by Randy | Mar 21, 2013
 

 


 



@iamlighting

 





Authorized Lutron Reseller | 26 Hill Road, Wells, ME 04090 |  phone: 207.676.4052  |  fax: 207.636.8400  | email: info@hillroadlighting.com        
Home page photos by George Gruel - www.oddstick.com