Pollarding – The art of taming nature no3

Pollarding is a method of pruning trees and shrubs to keep them at a smaller height than they would normally grow.

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In Medieval times, pollarding was practised as a means of producing kindling or fodder for livestock.

Today, annual pollarding of street trees is common to manage their size and to reduce the shadow cast by them.

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Trees pollarded back to the knobbly stump. Early Spring.

The best time to pollard is late winter/early spring before growth starts.

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A pollarded tree stands behind pleached trees.

Once the young tree reaches its required height, pollarding begins by dramatically cutting off all of the limbs. In time a knobbly stump forms, from which long straight sprouts emerge each spring. These sprouts should be removed every one or two years, cutting back to the knobbly stump.

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It is a technique often used to create formality in a garden.

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Clipped hedges, pollarded and pleached trees in a formal front garden.

I’m in two minds about it – it allows a large tree to be kept in check and fits in well with a formal layout, which I do admire.

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A grove of pollarded trees awaiting their cut.

It’s very much the fashion in well-tended Flemish gardens.

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Yet I sometimes long to see the tree breaking loose and growing with abandon… as Nature intended.

18 thoughts on “Pollarding – The art of taming nature no3

  1. I agree with your two minds on it. I like both. I am always hesitant to cut back because I feel like I am hurting the tree. But sometimes it just has to be done or lose the tree in the long run when it becomes to big for the space.


  2. I always learn so much from your posts. I loved the look of the pollarded trees in the Flemish garden, but I think basically, I am a little uncomfortable about it too.


    • Thanks Karen. I agree. It’s fascinating being in gardens with such a distinctive style, and I’ve learnt such a lot, but at heart I prefer a more natural style.


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