Three London Plane Tree 'Bloodgood' Trees Planted - Pleaching Planned - October 2021

This post serves as the final 'tree planting' post for the year, but also lays out a little bit of the self-education process I've been through in terms of ornamental tree pruning over the past few weeks.

I'm learning (everyday!) that there are many types of pruning - and I've tried one of them:  espalier.

But, in addition to espalier, there's also pollarding, pleaching and topping.

The espalier I've done includes some horizontal cordon work on a pair of Greenspire Linden trees. After four growing seasons, they're starting to come into their final form and I love them. 

And more recently, set up a new pair of crab apple trees with a TBD form

I've been exploring the other pruning methods to figure out if I should try to learn and get to know them.

What I've settled on is trying my hand at pleaching. The first time i talked about pleaching was back in 2018 here when I was discussing trees.  At the time, I was using pleaching and espalier interchangeably.  But, that isn't the case.   Then, we saw pleached Chestnut trees at Luxembourg Gardens in 2019 and I started to understand them as not 2 dimensional, but 3 dimensional - almost 'boxes'. 

That's what I was seeing at Disneyland in 2019, too

But, let's also get up-to-speed on the other pruning methods that I looked at to narrow my options.

First, pollarding.  Via Hortus Conclusis:   

Pollarding refers to pruning a tree’s branches right back to the trunk or stem so that it will produce a dense growth of new shoots. It is often used in cities and parks to inhibit growth branches which might cause an obstruction.

And what kind of trees are appropriate for pollarding?  The Royal Horticultural Society has this list:

Turns out, that's what I saw in tokyo with their street trees here and here.  Pollarding is interesting.  But, not what I'm after in our backyard.

The main difference between the two methods is that coppicing occurs at ground level while pollarding is done 8-10 feet high to prevent browsing animals from eating the fresh shoots; typically, coppicing was done to manage woodlands and pollarding was done in a pasture system.
Again...coppicing is interesting, but not what I'm after here with trees.

Finally...what about topping? From Arborist Now, they explain how topping is different than pollarding
Topping a tree is reducing the height of the crown to a limit. Think of a heading cut applied to the tree as a whole.

What is a heading cut you ask? A heading cut is when you prune the terminal portion of a branch to a bud or a lateral branch that isn’t large enough to assume dominance of growth. This shocks the branch either causing various dormant lateral buds to start growing (watersprouts) or killing the branch entirely. Similarly, topping a tree will shock it and can lead to either erratic growth or sudden death.

After understanding all of those, I was more certain than ever that what I'm MOST interested in (besides espalier) is pleaching.  I kept reading and found this post on kgarden that talks about their journey of pleaching a hedge and included photos of the support 'box' they created to train the limbs.

Here's the photo from their post:

Not my photo above.  Source


Source for pleach frame.  This is a screenshot via Harrods.

*THAT'S* what I'm after.  A hedge on stilts.  

But, what kind of trees work well for these pleached trees?  Again, I turned to the Royal Horticultural Society and they share a few ideas including Ash, Beech, Chestnut (What is in Luxembourg Gardens in Paris), Hornbeams and....Plane trees.  

Now...on to the tree planting pay-off.

All of that windup about pleaching (and other techniques) leads to this payoff:  I've recently brought home three very small London Plane Tree 'Bloodgood' trees that I've planted along the south fence line and have spaced them about 4' apart with the goal of working on pleaching them into a 'hedge on stilts'.

Here (below) is a look at one of the trees - it is a thin trunk with good growth on top.  My plan is to frame the pleach ABOVE the top of the fence, so much of what you see below will eventually be limb'd-up and off.   (But...I've learned my lesson on pruning small trees.  I'm not going to touch the bottom part of these until I get new growth next year.)


Below is the tag showing the Bloodgood sport of the London Plane tree.  I've planted the same tree in the back part of our yard before (2020).

Here's a little bit of new, top growth on the trees after I brought them home. 



Here's one of them stuck in behind the Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas. 



I only planted three.  Should have done four, but I didn't come across a fourth tree this Fall.  Will put this on my 2022 plan/wish-list.

In terms of keeping score, these are the 66th, 67th and 68th tree planted since we bought the property and have 47 trees alive.

Across this being our fifth growing season here.

68 trees planted/5 growing seasons = 13.6 trees on average planted each season.
47 trees alive/5 growing seasons = 9.4 trees on average survive each season.

These are the 14th, 15th and 16th trees planted this season which is the the third highest total behind the high years when I planted 17 trees (2018 and 2020). Which puts us above the median of 13.6 by almost three trees.

This would - I think - be the last tree planting post for the 2021 growing season.

2017 (9 planted. 4 Dead. 5 of the original annual total alive now):
1. Flowering Pear in backyard on north side.
2. Flowering Pear in front yard by garage. (LOST and replaced)
3. Japanese flowering cherry
4 and 5: 2 Lindens that I espalier'd and placed by the south fence line near our kitchen windows.
6. A Dawn Redwood from Earth Day 2017 (LOST and replaced)
7. Nat's Saucer Magnolia in our front yard
8. A Corkscrew Willow all the way in the back (LOST)
9. A Crimson King Norway Maple near the trampoline

2018 (17 planted. 6 Dead):
10. Another flowering pear from Earth Day 2018
11. Red Maple Sun Valley tree from Earth Day 2018.
12. Weeping Cedar tree - our first evergreen.  (LOST)
13. The weeping flowering cherry tree that the Babe planted for Earth Day 2018.
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. These Frans Fontaine Hornbeams
22. A replacement Chanticleer Pear tree (3" caliper) out front by our garage
23. Our second evergreen - a short Fraser Fir Christmas Tree out by the trampoline. (LOST)
24. This Canadian Hemlock that is the first of nine that our landscape plan calls for in the backyard. (LOST)
25. Our replanted/replacement Dawn Redwood. Same spot as the first.
26. This teeny-tiny Bald Cypress that I planted in the front yard, in between our driveway and our neighbor to the north.

2019 (9 planted.  5 Dead):
27, 28, 29.  A set of three small Canadian Hemlock Trees in our far backyard. (Two Lost)
30, 31, 32.  This second set of three small Canadian Hemlocks along the north fence line. (One Lost)
33.  My new Weeping White Spruce that will only grow about 4' wide placed near the fence line alongside the espalier'd Lindens.
34.  A NEW Dwarf Alberta Spruce planted near the south fence line.  Our first "dwarf" tree.
35.  This new Hakuro Nishiki Willow (Dappled Willow) tree planted close to the flowering cherry on the southside.  LOST - October 2020.

37.  A very thin Lombardy Poplar tree - columnar form - in the way back wood chip area.  LOST - July 2020.
38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45.  These apple trees in a Belgian Fence espalier.
46.  A small Northern Red Oak tree - our first Oak tree planted.
47.  A 'decapitated' Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud that I planted on a whim.
48.  A replacement (from the nursery) Lavender Twist Redbud planted close to the brother.
49.  A tall(ish) London Plane tree that suffered some transplant and frost shock, but seemed to recover. 
50.  Our second contorted tree - this one inspired by Disneyland Paris: a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick tree.
51.  Our third contorted tree - but one that checks A LOT of boxes.  Deciduous conifer.  Weeping.  Contorted.  Japanese.  Planted behind the front Maple - the Horstmann's Recursive Weeping Contorted Larch.  LOST - Aug 2020.
52.  Via the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale - a columnar tree from Japan - the Red Fox Katsura Tree that I planted as an understory tree to the dying Chanticleer Pear Tree next to our driveway. 

2021 (So Far) (16 planted and 16 alive):
53.  A tiny bareroot Shagbark Hickory from the Benet Academy Environmental Club planted in the backyard.   
55.  A large Weeping Nootka Falsecypress from Wannemaker's planted in the new bed on the northside. 
56.  A long-sought-after Emperor I Japanese Maple - our second Japanese Maple - that is now planted on the border near our new-to-be-created fire pit area in the backyard. 
59.  A dwarf Japanese White Pine - Pinus Parviflora Nana (or perhaps something else)
64.  A second, tiny Ginko tree - this was a replacement for #62 - planted 'ib2dw'.
65.  A small - and ALL Green - Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) planted in front of the back Yews.
66. 67. 68.  A trio of London Planetree 'Bloodgood' trees that are planted along the fence that I'm going to attempt to pleach.

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