Pruning trees and shrubs - trimming or torture?

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2003

When does tree trimming become tree torture? How does tree topping make trees unhealthy and dangerous, in addition to ugly? Why can't pruning turn a large tree into a small one?

Cass Turnbull, founder of PlantAmnesty, will answer these and other questions in an entertaining presentation on the art of proper pruning. Turnbull will show how to avoid common pruning "crimes" and battles with nature by learning how and when to make pruning cuts, how plants respond to pruning and how improper pruning affects the health and safety of trees. The presentation will also cover landscape renovation, rehabilitative pruning for plants that have been mal-pruned, radical renovation of shrubs and creative solutions for the too-crowded yard. The program concludes with slides of the good, the bad, and the bizarre.

Cass Turnbull worked for the Seattle Parks Department for 11 years before starting her own landscape maintenance and consulting business in 1986. Three years later, she founded PlantAmnesty, a nonprofit organization that has 900 members in 43 states and three countries.

PlantAmnesty's goal, to end the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs, has gained national recognition for using humor to educate the public and commercial sectors on responsible, appropriate pruning and landscape management principles, and setting high standards of quality care for urban plants.

Turnbull studied horticulture at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. She is a certified arborist, a Washington State certified landscaper, and a veteran of the King County Master Gardener program. She is a regular guest speaker and instructor for vocational schools and horticultural programs. Turnbull lectures to parks departments, school districts, community clubs, commercial landscape groups, and at industry seminars and home shows. She is frequently published and interviewed on the subject of pruning reform and has won three awards for her work, which, in addition to teaching and lecturing, includes informational pamphlets, a newsletter, information booths, a how-to book, and public service announcements. She has a new book on pruning due out in Feb. 2004. Turnbull will also speak in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Sitka during her visit to Alaska.

In Juneau, the presentation will be held in the Bill Ray Center at the corner of Glacier Avenue and 10th Street, Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. A $5 donation will be requested at the door. The Alaska Division of Forestry Community Forestry Program, Cooperative Extension Service, Juneau Tree Committee, International Society of Arboriculture Pacific Northwest Chapter, and USDA Forest Service are sponsoring the Juneau presentation.

The Sitka presentation will be held in the Harrigan Centennial Hall, 330 Harbor, Thursday, Feb. 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. A $5 donation will be requested at the door. The Alaska Division of Forestry Community Forestry Program, Cooperative Extension Service, Sitka Parks and Recreation, the Sitka Tree and Landscape Committee, International Society of Arboriculture Pacific Northwest Chapter, and USDA Forest Service are sponsoring the presentation in Sikta.

More information is available from the Cooperative Extension Service at 745-8749 or by e-mail from patricia_joyner@dnr.state.ak.us and the Alaska Community Forestry Program.



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