Before and after


Back in 1997 I planted two ornamental plum trees in front of my house.  They and 6 more trees were added to my block in a Friends of Trees neighborhood planting that I helped to organize.  They haven’t appeared on this blog before now because I don’t care much for them and would select something entirely different now.  Planting them was a mistake in the sense that I thought I was planting a February birthday blooming tree for myself.  My parents planted what they refer to as a plum tree when I was born, and the tree still provides winter blooms in their tiny Tokyo garden.  That tree is actually an apricot, same genus as plum – Prunus.  The trees I planted are Prunus ceracifera ‘Mt St Helens,’ a purple leaf variety that does not flower until spring break, the last week of March!  Silly me.

From last spring:



I’ve often dreamed of removing these trees and replacing them with green leaf trees, ones with stunning fall color, trees with a more beautiful form — I prefer something with a strong central leader.  Even though this species was selected from an approved list for the size of the planting strip, the habit is really unsuited to such a narrow space, less than 3 feet wide.  The limbs are frequently getting bashed and torn off by passing vehicles.  Oh well.  At least in their maturity they do provide needed summer shade for the curbside parking spot.  And there are so many good memories of days spent climbing and sitting in the limbs for these two young boys (photo from 2007).

2007-05- 328b

I recently had these trees professionally pruned for the first time since they were planted.  Long overdue.

Before (left) and after (right):

IMG_8825     IMG_8866

Maybe I’ll like them a little more now that they’ve been cleaned up and had water sprouts and dead branches (so many!) removed.  This is a friendly reminder to take care of your trees with regular pruning.  Pruning allows more light to get through and improves air circulation necessary for the health of your tree.  Winter is the time to do it.  Spring is on its way — don’t put it off! And remember to get a pruning permit if your tree is in the City of Portland public right-of-way.

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2 Responses to Before and after

  1. Julie Fukuda says:

    Indeed, the “plum” tree planted for your birth is an apricot. I love the early blooms that are the first indication that spring is on its way. I like to wait until after the flowers are finished to prune the tree. I get frustrated with the Japanese gardeners who come in the fall and cut everything back because the magnolias and camellias and Dogwoods have all set their buds at the end of the summer. We put maples in the same bed for fall beauty. That plum has no regard for fall. The leaves don’t even turn brown.

  2. Elvis says:

    Although I do like flowering plum trees, I know what you mean about wanting a green, leafy canopy in summer. We inherited a mature dark red maple in our front garden, and it makes the space SO dark in summer. I am glad to have the tree sheltering the house but I really wish its shade was less dark and dense.

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