"HOLLAND PRUNING" of Ornamental Trees
Topping trees is JUST AGAINST NATURE….,! but is Pollarding ?????
In my home country “The Netherlands” , it was and is very custom to top and pollard trees for beauty as well as economics, they top the tree to harvest the branches for kindling as well as broom material, or eliminate the wind the trees may take out of the air to mobilize the wind mils. They use the large branches and laterals from poplars to make “wooden shoes” ! like in the U.S.A., we make “tooth picks” and “match sticks” from Aspen.
Although “topping” a tree can be a “death blow” to the tree’s health, pollarding a tree can be successfully done to certain species like, fruit trees and in particular the London Plane or Platanus ( a sycamore variety) and Willow varieties. Typical example are some streets in downtown San Francisco.
My friend, Dr. Curtis Smith from New Mexico State University has written the following exhortation to which I concur:
“ Pollarding Trees is done to and also a matter of tradition. Pollarding of trees began hundreds of years ago(in Holland) as a way of producing annually renewed stove wood and weaving wood for baskets and brooms. The look of pollarded trees became accepted as a normal appearance of trees, so pollarding continues. And now you are wondering about the difference between topping and pollarding. In the case of proper pollarding, the branches that are cut are never more than one-to-two years old. In topping, much older and larger branches are cut. Only a few varieties of trees tolerate pollarding as a management method like a Sycamore and Linden allow the growing of trees in smaller streetscape settings."
The pollarding process does not severely circumvent the natural protective mechanism that protects the tree from disease and insects. Topping, on the other hand, totally defeats the protective mechanism of the tree. During the dormant season, you can see that all the new growth on a pollarded tree is small (one-to-two years old cuts) and originates from the same area of the branches. Every one-to-two years, the sprouts are cut back to the same area of the branch stump where they originated. This results in the knobby ends to the major branches from which new sprouts grow every year. We’d call our trees in Holland like “Knob Willows”!
TOPPING IS A NO/NO! POLLARDING OKAY AS LONG AS YOU ARE WILLING TO ASSUME THE JOB AND EXPENSE OF POLLARDING EVERY ONE-TO-TWO YEARS FOR THE “LIFE” OF THE TREE!
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