September 12, 2013
Sculpting An English Hornbeam Hedge
On Monday's blog, I showed you how my farm workers, Wilmer and Chhewang, pruned a Carpinus betulus, or English hornbeam hedge so expertly. Well, there's been a lot more pruning taking place in many areas of the farm. This week started off with pruning another hornbeam hedge using a very different method. Here's a step-by-step of that two-day project.
1 The parking area near the greenhouse is blocked from the road by a tall hornbeam hedge.
2 The hedge had grown quite a bit over the summer and needed a good pruning.
3 About four years ago, it was decided to prune this hedge using a classic European style of pruning, giving it a nice sculpted look.
4 English hornbeam, or Carpinus betulus, is related to the beech tree, with a similar leaf shape.
5 A closeup of the leaves - Hornbeam leaves turn a pleasing golden orange in the autumn, changing to brown with most foliage dropping off during winter.
6 The pruning team of Chhewang and Wilmer partnered up again for this big project.
7 They started by pruning the lower sides of the hedges, creating flat faces. We really like these Okatsune Japanese hedge shears.
8 People always want to know why we don't use electric or gas power hedge shears. It's simple - using hand hedge shears allows for a lot more accuracy, especially for detail work.
9 If you are using power shears and accidentally sneeze or move too fast, you can easily cut a big hole into a hedge. The also don't cut cleanly, fraying the ends of the branches.
10 Plus, as power shears become dull, they get bound on the branches and cut raggedly. These hand shears are sharpened at least once an hour using a sharpening stone to keep them snipping well.
11 With the front face done, Chhewang and Wilmer have moved to the road side of the hedge, which is not sculpted, but pruned flat.
12 When the road side was complete, the tops of the hedges were tackled using the Hi-Lo machine.
13 The cage palette of the Hi-Lo provides much more stability when reaching than a ladder does. And because this is a parking area, the Hi-Lo can be used here.
14 Wilmer uses the top rail of the cage palette as his cutting guide. No string or levels required!
15 All he needs is for Chhewang to move the Hi-Lo down the line into the next pruning position.
16 I chose hornbeam for this hedge because it grows rapidly, up to 4-5 feet a year. Privacy from the road was a big concern of mine.
17 Plus, Carpinus betulus can be easily shaped into almost any form you choose. It's perfect for creating very tall hedges.
18 When my friend, Dan Hinkley, created his fabulous Heronswood gardens in Washington State, this is what he did with the same hornbeam - a wall of double arches! Simply amazing!
19 Moving the Hi-Lo
20 I should mention that deer will certainly eat hornbeam, but since the property is fenced off to deer, it isn't a problem for us.
21 Good work, Wilmer!
22 Nearly done
23 Pruning is quite a workout!
24 Fernando helped out by raking all of the trimmings.
26 A panorama before...
27 And a panorama after