Beware Bending that Branch-

Many years ago I held a conifer branch in my hand in a totally shocked moment after it had literally shattered while testing it for flexibility. Eons passed. When I returned to breathing normally, the branch was still in my hand, and the tree was a couple feet away, because I had stood up. I went inside to have a cup of tea—celebrations are wine events at my house, catastrophes are tea events—and realized something I’ve never forgotten, yet frequently forget to pass on to students: Never bend a frozen branch.

Now that might seem obvious, although not quite as obvious perhaps as putting your tongue on a frosted railing just as the sun is rising, later only hoping for rescue before the sun sets. Some mishaps are not brilliantly thought out ‘what ifs’ but just a lack of coordination. I’ve also cleanly taken off a frozen white pine branch with a rather deft movement of a hose that otherwise would have flexed quite easily with no damage whatsoever.

For those of you in the north where trees might get totally and convincingly frozen, do make an effort to thaw them out before attempting to work on them. Hopefully this post will prevent some of those preventable mishaps. If you’re as karmically klutz prone as I am, well, perhaps we have more interesting stories to share than those who are graceful and dextrous. Otherwise there seem to be few advantages.

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  1. Alex says:

    +10 Internet points for the hilarious and well-worded story!

  2. So, would sharing our klutz-prone stories be done sipping tea or wine?

  3. jonny says:

    I’ve been looking at the upper branches of my Silver Birch, thinking they could do with a bit of shaping… maybe I’ll wait till Spring!! Thanks!

    • crataegus says:

      Some light wiring would be fine in the winter, but if the tree has been stored in freezing temps make sure it thaws out for a day before working on it-

  4. Steve Moore says:

    Good pointer there, Mike.

  5. reelbonsai says:

    Reminds me of a couple winter’s back when you snapped that broom in half trying to sweep snow and ice off of a bench at the nursery…

  6. Jorge says:

    Thanks god we don’t have that kind of problem here in Mexico Mike 🙂 but is good to know about this. Thanks for share!!

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