Earlier this week, I was stopped at an intersection when I noticed the sad plants on the corner.
I apologize for the poor-quality photo, but I only had a few seconds to take a picture with my phone through the window.
What was so sad about these plants was that they were mere shadows of themselves.
Many people would be hard pressed to recognize the over-pruned specimens above to what they look like when allowed to grow into their more natural shapes.
Here are photos of the same type of tree, taller shrub and cupcake shape shrub growing in happier circumstances…
The small mushroom-topped tree is actually a Palo Brea tree (Parkinsonia praecox), which has a beautiful shape. The trunk is beautiful as it twists upward.
Unfortunately, the flowering shrubs underneath it have fallen victim to over-pruning.
The taller shrub from the ‘sad’ plant photo is a Yellow (Mexican) Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana).
It can be grown as a small tree or tall shrub.
Yellow flowers appear off and on throughout the year. However, I doubt that the over-pruned Yellow Bird-of-Paradise is ever able to produce a single flower before it is pruned off.
Can you believe that the cupcake-shaped shrub in the first photo is actually the same kind as this gorgeous flowering shrub?
Perhaps more then any other type of desert shrub, those that belong to the family Leucophyllum (often referred to as Texas Ranger or Sage) are pruned into balls, squares, cupcakes and even disks.
Unfortunately, due to a badly designed landscape, the lower shrubs don’t have enough room to grow. A single tree would have plenty of room to be able to grow, but not two.
A better plan would have been for there to be a single Palo Brea tree with 3 Texas Sage shrubs along the wall. The groundcover, Bush Morning Glory (Convolvulus cneorum) works okay in this area.
**You know what is interesting about this small piece of landscape and countless others? It would cost so much less if people would allow enough room for plants to grow to their full size, not to mention much more attractive.
There would be FEWER PLANTS to purchase, LESS WATER needed and far LESS MAINTENANCE required.
It makes you think about why people over-plant and over-prune, doesn’t it?
For more information on how to properly prune shrubs, check out my previous post, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.
If you would like to see more badly pruned trees along with a link to how to properly prune trees, check out “Scary Pruning Practices and the Unfortunate Results.”Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."