1.What first drew you to the field of aesthetic pruning?
I was drawn into aesthetic pruning because I enjoy looking at trees with new eyes. I never knew that a tree in the garden has its own design potential in addition to the role it plays in how a garden is experienced.
2.How do you define aesthetic pruning? What is the primary goal/role of an aesthetic pruner?
I define aesthetic pruning as applying the combination of art and science in order to prune with design intent for a specific context.
The primary goal/role of the aesthetic pruner is to be a supportive team member in the long term fostering of a garden. They must adapt a pruning plan to fit the tree, the client and the garden.
3. What led you to found the Aesthetic Pruners Association?
I was a co-founder of the Aesthetic Pruners Association along with many, many other pruners from the Merritt College Pruning Club in Oakland California. I volunteered to chair the exploratory committee for the creation of a professional association and then became a founding board member for 6 years. I volunteered because I thought it was a great way for me to give back to the community of pruners who are my teachers and co-conspirators in the world of aesthetic pruning. The field of aesthetic pruning isn’t well known and we found the term being adopted by people who had no care for the health and well-being of the trees or the garden. We wanted a way to recognize those who are committed to quality pruning and care of smaller trees and shrubs found most often in urban, residential and public gardens.
4.What is your favorite aspect of aesthetic pruning? What brings you the most joy in your work?
I love revealing the tree within the tree and then watching it develop over the years. I love it when clients say “I didn’t know my tree could look like that!” or if they have been working with me for a while and they repeat one of my design goals such as “We need to add more depth of field to this wall of shrubs.” I like that I see something new every time I prune and that there is so much to learn. It brings me joy when I see satisfaction and a sense of peace on my clients faces.
5.What advice would you give to someone who is interested in aesthetic pruning but doesn’t know where to begin?
I would start with learning the basics of arboriculture. Then I would add learning design principles such as movement, line, massing and scale. These are common design principles that can be found in any of the arts. Bonsai has a long tradition of talking about trees using design language so that could be a fun and available space to visit. Finding a pruning buddy or group who is open to discussing the tree before and after pruning is very valuable. I would also attend any and all pruning classes you can find. I always learn something new or find confirmation. I would tell them to have fun!