It's pruning time for my standard weeping hornbeams.
Last week, Chhewang dedicated a day to trimming the weeping hornbeams that line a fence in what I call my "party lawn" - a flat area often used for playing badminton, bocce ball, croquet, and corn hole beanbag toss during summer. Botanically known as Carpinus betulus 'pendula', the weeping hornbeam is deciduous and has a tight, dense growth pattern. I keep a close eye on all my hornbeams - it’s crucial that they be pruned regularly, so they never look too overgrown and unruly.
Here are some photos of our pruning process and a look at how these trees appear in full bloom.
In the area between the southeast paddock and my clematis pergola are six matched standard weeping hornbeams, Carpinus betulus ‘Pendula’. These are very precious trees and I am so happy they continue to grow well here.
Recently, I asked that Chhewang give them a good pruning. Chhewang has become an excellent pruner, and oversees a lot of the smaller tree pruning projects around the farm.
This photo was taken last May. On the right are the weeping hornbeams when they were lush green with foliage. Carpinus betulus ‘Pendula’ is a dense tree with a strong center, a shapely form and gracefully arching branches.
Weeping hornbeams do best in full sun to partial shade. They prefer to grow in average to moist conditions, and grow most vigorously on soil that is fertile, light, deep, and acidic.
Here is another look at them in the spring of 2016 – I love how the branches of these trees create an umbrella of foliage that reaches the ground.
Here is a photo of one of the six from October of 2015, with the dense morning fog behind it. Weeping hornbeams can grow to be about 50-feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 40-feet. If you look closely, the leaves are changing – the foliage turns a bright yellow color in the fall.
This photo is from May 2015 when they were just leafing out.
Hornbeams are very dependable cultivars and don’t need much pruning except when necessary for shaping or for removing dieback.
Chhewang cuts off any dead, damaged or diseased branches first.
And then removes any crowded or crisscrossing branches as well as any that appear overreaching.
Look at all the buds that have formed – these will look so beautiful this season.
Chhewang cuts the branches back to the last bud within the same spread as the rest of the branches. He also stops every so often to assess the shape of the trees as he works on them.
All of the weeping hornbeams are staked, so they do not “blow over” in the wind storms which sometimes plague us here in Bedford.
The trunks have smooth gray bark and distinctive muscle-like fluting. Hornbeam is often described as the hardiest, heaviest and toughest of woods.
It’s always a good idea to wear protective eyewear whenever doing any outdoor tree cutting work.
I prefer all the hornbeams be pruned by hand using pruners, secateurs or Japanese shears – it is a slower process, but provides a more detailed and prettier finish. I love my pruners from Okatsune. They’re very durable, and come with the distinctive Okatsune red and white handles that are easy to spot in any garden bed.
Most of the trimming is done by eye, since all my trees are well-maintained and regularly pruned, but Chhewang also uses the old cuts as guides.
After all the branches are cut, they are gathered, neatly piled and then processed through a wood chipper to make mulch.
Under ideal conditions, weeping hornbeams can live up to 120-years or more.
These weeping hornbeams look great – I am looking forward to seeing all my trees, shrubs and hedges leaf out this spring.