1 In the parking lot in front of my main greenhouse, there's a tall hedge. It's an English hornbeam hedge, or Carpinus betulus. It is quite pretty in this location, but it also serves as a good privacy barrier from the road.
2 Carpinus betulus, is a hornbeam native to Western Asia and central, eastern and southern Europe, including southern England. Because of its dense foliage and tolerance to being cut back, this hornbeam is popularly used for hedges and topiaries.
3 Carpinus betulus grows pretty quickly - about four to five feet feet per year, so it was time for another good, thorough pruning.
4 I decided to maintain this hedge using a traditional English style of pruning. A well-manicured hedge can be stunning in any garden, but left unchecked, it could look unruly, and cast unwanted shade.
5 Phurba trimmed the upper sections while Chhewang pruned the lower ones.
6 Using Japanese Okatsune hedge shears, Phurba and Chhewang started pruning the front of the hornbeams, so they were nice and flat. These shears are user friendly, and come in a range of sizes.
7 Most formal hedges should be trimmed a few times a year, especially while they are actively growing.
8 Using hand shears is more time consuming, but it is also more exact, and that's important when sculpting formal hedges. Here, you can see what had been pruned and what still needed tackling.
9 Pruning such a large hedge can quickly wear out the shears' blades, so they were sharpened several times during the trimming process.
10 Here is a closer look at the growth that was being pruned.
11 Phurba used a ladder to get whatever he could reach. Most of the trimming was done by eye, since my hedges are well-maintained and regularly pruned.
12 Here was one side showing what it looked like after it was trimmed.
13 Once Phurba and Chhewang trimmed all they could on this side of the hedge, they moved to the roadside.
14 Hornbeams are often confused with the common beech primarily because of the similar appearance of their leaves. On the hornbeam, the leaves are actually smaller and more deeply furrowed than beech leaves. They become golden yellow to orange before falling in autumn.
15 When the roadside of the hornbeam hedge was finished, the crew brought in my Hi-Lo machine, so the top of the hedge could be done. This piece of equipment is very useful, and because the hedge was reachable from the parking lot, it always comes in handy for this task.
16 To ensure the top of the hedge was trimmed properly, Chhewang used a level and a long bamboo stick.
17 Chhewang then used those trusted Okatsune shears to continue pruning the top.
18 It takes some time, but the outcome is so worth the effort.
19 Chhewang was lifted above the hedge, so he could safely trim the top from the cage of the Hi-Lo.
20 The top of this hedge section was trimmed perfectly level.
21 Chhewang was carried from section to section very carefully on the Hi-Lo. This was also a good time for him to assess the work he had done so far, and to decide whether adjustments were needed.
22 Look down at all the leaves that were pruned - and that's just from one section!
23 This hedge could be sculpted in any way, but I decided to shape it very square, with the taller sections protruding just a bit.
24 Remember how it looked before?
25 This is how it looks now - beautiful.
26 Now it's time to take on this one - the longer hornbeam hedge that runs along the same road behind my winter house and my summer house.
27 The crew already started pruning the front. It will look fantastic after it's all finished.