I’m talking about snipping off the ends of tree branches to shorten them.
In the drawing, the blue line indicates roughly where someone snipped off the ends of branches a, b, c, and d. You can see how the tree responded: a spray of profuse new growth (“shoots” or “water sprouts”) from near the ends of the tipped branches.
At the tip of a tree branch there is a so-called terminal or apical bud. This specialized bud regulates growth of the entire branch. (After all, the tree needs to grow up and out to reach that all-important sunlight!)
A hormone is involved, called auxin. Think of auxin as being like a sleep potion. All those many other buds lying under the bark along each branch? Auxin keeps those buds dormant.
But if I snip off the terminal bud, some of those dormant buds along the branch “wake up.” They send out shoots which will become twigs which will become new branches.
Tipping a branch to clear a sidewalk or street is usually counterproductive. Within a year or two, the problem will be twice or three times as bad. Look how many sprouts were growing on this tipped Bradford pear. (Located on Austin Avenue at its intersection with Euclid. Thanks to Meghan for identifying this hazard to pedestrians.)
Instead, always cut a branch just beyond a node. A node is simply where a leaf, twig, or secondary branch attaches to a larger part of the tree.
Put differently, your goal is always to leave a bud which can become the new terminal or apical bud of that branch, controlling that essential hormone auxin, so that the tree can grow up and out.
This, I believe, is a carpenter bee (Xylocopa spp.), and I caught it collecting nectar from some salvia I have growing in my front yard (Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue’). It appears to be doing exactly what I find described by Steve Buchman of The Bee Works:
From time to time carpenter bees are quite ingenious in their foraging for nectar. On flowers such as salvias, penstemons, and other long, tubular flowers the carpenter bee, due to its large size, is unable to enter the flower opening. Instead they become nectar robbers. Using their mouthparts they cut a slit at the base of corolla and steal away with the nectar without having pollinated the flower.
I was walking through Freedom Park during this rainy September, and these leaves caught my eye. Aren’t they lovely?
The shape is “cordate,” related to such words as cardiac, concord, discord, accord, and cordial. In other words, these leaves are heart-shaped.
These are the leaves of a linden tree, and more exactly, of an American linden. The scientific name is Tilia americana. (There are some 45 species of lindens around the world. Inman Park has a second, European species, Tilia cordata or littleleaf linden, in front of 100 Waverly Way.)
It’s also called basswood, where the prefix bass- refers not to music or fish but to “bast.” Bast is the inner, fibrous bark of linden trees, which Native Americans made into twine. (At some point lind- became “lime” in British English, so if you read about “lime” trees lining some road in Europe, don’t be thinking about citrus trees.)
I love American linden. Here’s a large one in Freedom Park:
It’s native to our region. It grows fast. It can reach 100 feet or more. It can live for well over a century. It is easy to transplant. And it flowers!
No surprise that American linden is also called bee tree.
I also love this bit of knowledge from Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Arboretum America: A Philosophy of the Forest:
“The design of each flower is such that the nectar produced on the inside of the sepal cannot be lost by rain or dew. This is because these flowers hang upside down and act like little umbrellas. The nectar, too, hangs in solution upside down. But the sepal produces a few fine hairs that, together with the physics of surface tension, are just enough force to hold the liquid in place without splashing down onto the grass underneath the tree.”
We’ve been planting more of these American lindens in Inman Park. Good for the pollinators, good for the neighborhood! Here’s one in the yard of Bill and Ann Moore:
Jaime Kirsche and Jim Abbot were the inaugural volunteers at the first-ever Whack, Yak, and Snack, which will take place every third Saturday of the month, meeting on the porch of 946 Waverly Way at 9:00 a.m.
Jaime and I got a ton done on Saturday, September 18. We worked along the sidewalk that lies between Springvale Park and Edgewood Avenue. The goal was to improve sight lines into the park, remove invasive trees, and clear the sidewalk of low-hanging limbs.