Annual garden milestones / by William Cook

Although the garden is ever changing—day-by-day, or year-by-year—there are certain annual milestones that, when met, become big “check-off” items on our self-assigned list of duties for fostering the garden.

They are milestones such as…When all 43 pines have had their spring pruning care or again when they have their winter pruning care, when the first go-round of tamamono pruning is complete (there are 4-5 shearing cycles each summer), when the larger hedges get pruned (the hornbeams, laurel, and arborvitae), when all leaves have been raked into piles during winter clean-up (and ready to move to where we process them into mulch), when all accumulated mulch has been returned to the garden, and so on.

Mike and I working both sides

One such milestone just completed is the late spring-early summer “snipping” of all 18 hinoki trees. A partner this year in achieving the hinoki milestone was Mike Fisher, our neighbor and garden intern. As Mike learned, pruning hinoki is a time-consuming task but worth it as the “clouds” in the trees are redefined, drawing attention to their unique eye-catching forms that mimic the “borrowed” Douglas firs!

"Before" cloud pruning

"After" cloud pruning

For the gardener, such milestones emphasize the seasonal progression of natural growth processes and the inescapable passing of time. But most important to the gardener as foster caregiver, our labor makes a difference both emotionally and visually. It helps drive motivation of promised personal rewards, therefore giving strength to tackle these chores once again each new year.

Access is critical, gardener agility is important!

It is said that gardeners live longer because they are always thinking of what’s next for the garden and of the coming year’s projects. The future is now!