Ella Reads Bye Bye Diapers Waiting Patiently for a Trim
Ella Reads Bye Bye Diapers Waiting Patiently for a Trim

Strand Theory is this: I purport that there is a distinct relationship between the way one approaches pruning their bushes and an emotional attachment to the very strands of hair on one’s head. This is not junk science folks.  I shall set about to prove my theory with actual case studies. You may be shocked, if not shocked amused. I shall provide further substantiation to this discourse to trimming said locks and giving the bushes a healthy whack with the hedge trimmers. For those of you too young to remember

80's Michael
80’s Michael

 

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical defined an age that sparked much comment and controversy. It opened off-Broadway October of 1967, and on Broadway in April of 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances! Some of the songs from its score became Top 10 hits and a feature film adaptation was released in 1979. A Broadway revival opened March 31, 2009 earning strong reviews and winning the Tony Award and Drama Desk award for best revival musical. In 2008 Time magazine wrote “Hair seems, if anything, more daring than ever.”

Crepe Myrtle Pruned Severely
Crepe Myrtle Pruned Severely

“Where are you going with this Gaga?” We are going to talk about pruning and how our emotions are related to how we approach pruning. Folks with serious control issues put a big hurt on their bushes, there I’ve said it.  Here’s an example of a crepe myrtle murder right next to this paragraph and a link explaining how severe pruning can seriously harm the life of your plant. We are going to talk about pruning and moderation in all things. It’s almost spring and I am under an obligation to urge restraint or at best moderation.

The Grumpy Gardener, Steve Bender has the best article on pruning Crepe Myrtles I’ve found in his article called Crepe Myrtle Pruning Step-By Step published online by Southern Living. This is the way to go about the correct way to prune these beautiful hard wood “trees” so they will flourish.

Pruning a Hybrid Tea Rose Bush
Pruning a Hybrid Tea Rose Bush

When I moved to Texas I was informed the last hard freeze was President’s Day.

What an expensive lesson. I pruned all 200 roses around President’s Day, planted 19 new bushes and left on a trip to CA in early March. I returned to something I have never seen before. Temperatures had dropped to 8 degrees with a northeast wind. The new spring leaves on the NE side of all the trees had frozen and died. I lost all 19 new bushes. and all the new growth on the older bushes had frozen on the canes and rotted. It’s the only year in all my years of rose growing I had to re-prune all 200 bushes.

Beauty Knows No Pain & is Rewarded with a Sucker
Beauty Knows No Pain & is Rewarded with a Sucker

I have learned there is more to that quote my mother used to say “beauty knows no pain,” and waiting patiently has its rewards. Pruning roses in Chicago was easy. The canes usually had to be pruned back fairly hard. In Texas you have the choice of pruning moderately and boy do we have dialog about pruning. But I can tell you there are witnesses to pruning wars around here about whether to prune light, moderate or severe. I usually choose moderate pruning. And I wait now until the last possible chance of a drastic hard freeze can come through. I promised to prove my theory so here goes.

Gaga & Bonica Shrub Roses Spring Bloom
Gaga & Bonica Shrub Roses Spring Bloom

Life long friend Nancy confirms my theory about pruning her bushes as therapy. When she feels like she wants to take control she gets the hedge trimmers and “gets after” her bushes. Please reference this very blog ‘Haunted By The Ghosts of Plants You’ve Killed With Kindness” http://www.gagasgarden.com/?p=146

Scary Abused Rosa Radrazz Victim
Scary Abused Rosa Radrazz Victim

The offender in the above referenced post is an accountant. Now this lovely well intentioned lady not only ripped this rose bush out of the ground and pruned it she just decided to start trimming the roots. Lovely readers, I don’t have any credentials as a psychologist but do you see a pattern here? Any thoughts of control issues, maybe?

70's Gaga
70’s Gaga

Imagine how giddy I was to see these lyrics from Hair? lol

They’ll be ga ga at the go go
When they see me in my toga
My toga made of blond
Brilliantined
Biblical hair

My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it

70s Martha
70s Martha
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13 thoughts on “Strand Theory”

  1. I think you are onto something here. I was once, in a fit of anger and went out into the garden with my shears. About an hour later, my wife came out and cautiously said “are you ok”? I was standing in front of a pile of clippings of what once was a 5′ hedge row, now neatly trimmed to under 3′. I replied, “I am now”. I did feel much better after releasing my stress on the shrubs. I approach rose gardening with a little different outlook. Hybrid teas are pruned low for long stemmed roses and (exhibitions), floribundas and grandifloras and Austins get a light clipping. All old gardens roses, I usually trim once a year after the first flush of bloom. As for crepe murder, it happens here and I hate it!!!!! The Grumpy Gardener doesn’t live that far from me!!!!! Great post!

    1. Hi Chris,
      I so appreciate your comments. They’re wonderful and funny, lol! My dear friend insisted on trimming a very large tree into a little tiny Christmas tree shape and regularly thrashed up those bushes pretty good. I would love to have you do a guest post on pruning. The Crepe Myrtles are being slaughtered here at an alarming rate. I’ll contact you about an interview if that’s OK with you. So glad to have met you via Twitter. 😉
      Warmest regards,
      Gaga

  2. What an interesting article Gaga! It was packed full of valuable insight – something attained from both success and mistakes which we’ve all made. Many, many years ago (giving myself away here), I had a conversation with an Ag agent that was to retire soon. I asked him how he had learned the things he did. With that, he smiled and mentioned in a very matter of fact tone, that he was still learning and this was after nearly 40 years of experience! That alone should comfort any gardener 🙂

    Now, to the Strand Theory, I think that your observations are on target. If you’re asking me to commit to the type of pruner I am (in general terms), it would be a moderate. That said, I have absolutely no fear of either the light or the heavier handed pruning as well. It simply boils down to what the plant and/or situation calls for. If in doubt, I start with a light prune. Because I have small hands, I don’t use hedge trimmers and things like chainsaws. My preference is a good pair of very reliable clippers/pruners, hand saws, etc. These tools afford us the opportunity to do the job right. The larger unmanageable jobs, I’d have no problem calling in a pro!

    1. Dear Arbor & Vine,
      You are so right I have made so many pruning mistakes and don’t we learn from everyone of them painful as they may be! Like you I too choose moderate pruning methods and also have learned that if I go with a heavier hand the plant can be very forgiving. Thank-you for your valuable insight. I love your Tweets and your beautiful web site. Thank-you for your comments and I would love to interview you for a post. Perhaps I can get your thoughts further on some key topics for a post.
      Warmest Regards,
      Gaga

      1. Thank you so much Gaga. We have a great deal in common. There was many a day and time that a plant at our nursery required a major overhaul. Sometimes, it went well beyond the pruning we’ve been speaking of. There are times that root pruning was/is required as well… either that, or allow the plant to basically strangle. In that case, we used machetes to root prune or to split border grasses, foxtail ferns, palms, etc. The plants were a lot happier and healthier – no doubt, thanking me or the other help. The majority of the time, they’re just fine or possibly have a bit of shock; but, if done right, it’s minimal. Regardless, I’d like to think that they forgave me. Now, where can I get something to prune?! I look forward to sharing the growing season with you 🙂
        Best wishes to you gardening friend,
        Kathy

        1. Hi Kathy,
          You are so great to share this wonderful information and so funny! See! Maybe we could do a post together called what to do when you feel a whack attack comin’ on, lol.
          We could write about plants that are more forgiving when we get carried away! It’s always so good to hear from you. BTW it’s 20 degrees in Dallas and we were without heat or power for 10 hours. The Cowboys Stadium in preparation for the Super Bowl is exempt from the power outages. The show must go on. 😉
          Trying to Stay Warm,
          Gaga

          1. Got me there Gaga! It would be so easy to step outside and start trimming/pruning away….You know, the whack attack. It usually takes place for a lot of gardeners as they gaze upon their gardens, reviewing the carnage of winter’s wrath. That’s where it gets tricky and logic should prevail. Hold steady now and resist the temptation to prune. It’s early yet and we don’t want to encourage new growth just yet. Can’t stand it? Okay, fine…Try your hand at pruning a Crape Myrtle. Now’s the time – and seriously, no Crape Murder allowed. Wishing you considerably warmer days ahead Gaga or at least, with consistent heat (minus power outages).

            Kathy

  3. Haha, well, maybe those controlling types need to get into bonsai. Bonsai is nothing if not helping control how a plant grows – though you do have to be patient, which is often hard for those folks 🙂 (I speak from a point of knowledge here!)

    I thought you were going to do a side-by-side review – a person’s shrubs, a person’s hair. There’s a belief out there that people end up getting pets that oddly look like them. Maybe the same is true for people and their plans 🙂

    A joy to read, as always!

    1. Hi Margie,
      An interesting concept for sure and now that I pause to reflect several hedge trimmings I’ve seen do look rather like their respective owners, lol. You are correct Bonsai is the way to really get control of plant growth. It’s ruthless emotions that take a toll on these poor bushes though, and they are defenseless I say, just defenseless! They can’t actually retaliate, lol. It’s always fun to read your comments Margie, thanks so much!
      Warmest regards,
      Gaga

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