Street Trees of Tokyo - Columnar Via Heavy Pruning


Walking around Tokyo for a few days in February, I was struck by the parkway trees.  Or 'Street Trees' as they are called.  There's a whole site called "Street Trees of Tokyo" here.  In the photo above you can see two kinds of street trees.  On the left side, you see a more mature, but HEAVILY pruned tree.  And on the right, in the braces, you can see a much younger more columnar-by-nature tree that hasn't been pruned or touched in any way.

The trees that are heavily pruned take on an almost columnar form which helps in the narrow areas where they are shooting up in the parkways.  But, I can't help but wonder what they'd look like if they were allowed to grow out.  On the Street Trees of Tokyo site, they point out the pruning thusly:
Unfortunately, most of the street trees in Japan are excessively pruned under the excuse of preventing toppling of the trees during the typhoon season in autumn. Consequently, street trees in Japan are in average comparatively small in size.
Based on the younger trees being planted taking on a more columnar-by-design shape, I'm guessing that the forestry folks in Tokyo agree that the heavy pruning isn't ideal.

I've posted all about columnar trees over the past year or so here on the blog as I've been drawn more and more to that habit.  It started with the Columnar Frans Fontaine European Hornbeams that I first dreamed about then installed in our backyard on Hornbeam Hill.  And more recently, I've been dreaming about adding a columnar conifer to our backyard like this Columnar Norway Spruce or a Weeping White Spruce to add some winter interest and not take up too much space.

It seems that the whole Japanese tree "idea" is something that I am naturally drawn to in my gardening.  The idea of having a very green experience in narrow habits is something that has direct applicability to our backyard.  One of the biggest issues that I have is the equipment needed to maintain these things through pruning.  No cherry picker or even extension pole pruner.  Hmmm...maybe that's something I can solve:  the pruner.  Not the Cherry Picker, right??

Here's another shot of some street trees taken in February that shows how they've pruned these to be fairly narrow in habit:


In addition to large, outdoor trees in Tokyo, I also paid a visit to a bonsai shop.  I'll post a couple of photos about that trip soon.


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