Last week, we ended up taking down our dwarf Alberta spruces, mostly because at 8 feet tall, they are giant dwarfs, and also because once they are that tall, you can’t prune them back to, say, 5 feet or anything, because you don’t have enough greenery to work with.
Here’s the thing: dwarf Alberta spruces, which look like big fuzzy Christmas trees, have maybe an inch or two of green stuff on the outside, and then they’re dead all the way to the center. If you want to keep them small, you have to prune them carefully every year.
This garden is pretty overgrown, and lots of things that were no doubt the right size 15 or 20 years ago are now Papa-Bear size: just too big.
This is what the dwarves (two of them, one at each corner of the center bed) looked like before we started. The first photo, taken at dusk (I guess that’s why everything is so blue), has Red in it for size. All that white stuff on the spruce, by the way, is cobwebs from spider mites. Or big spiders. And the second photo shows that that spruce has managed to become the lumpy leaning tower of Pisa over the last 2 years. The brown spots are caused by spider mites.
The first thing we did was see if we could do a little topiary pruning, staying short of a unicorn, by cutting the greenery off the bottom a bit and having the tree show a bit of trunk.
It did make the tree look airier, but it somehow also made it look like a big awkward elf. So we decided to take the whole thing down.
There were two stems coming out of the main trunk, so the tree very politely split exactly in half.
This is what we mean but “not too much greenery on the outside and dead in the center”:
You’d think that taking out these two dwarves would leave big holes in the garden, but no. You can’t really tell they’re gone, except the garden looks more spacious. That’s a sure sign that the garden was overgrown to begin with.
The view from the bridge up toward the back of the house when we first moved in almost 2 years ago:
And the view now, with the elder on the left pruned back, and the “dwarf” mugo pine and “dwarf” Alberta spruce gone:
And now, with all the acidic needles gathered up and taken away, that end of the center garden bed can eventually be replanned and replanted.