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A mulberry success story that's worth sharing.

Gardeners are always asking for something fast-growing, which is why so many of them come home from nurseries with mulberry trees (Morus alba). And though the gardeners didn't ask for annual pruning, it's part of the package.

The Borden family of Orinda, California, have a mulberry pruning success story worth sharing. Thanks to pollarding, originally a way to get firewood without having to chop down trees, they have lived happily with three of these prodigious growers for more than 30 years. Here's how they did it.

The most difficult task was establishing a permanent branch framework in the early years. They envisioned umbrella-shaped trees over their patio, thinking of the main branches as the wire spokes. They wanted these main branches spaced evenly, at least 8 feet off the ground.

As the trees grew, the Bordens shortened branches below the 8-foot mark by half their length until, over a few years' time, branches were removed completely. Spoke branches not aimed in the desired direction were removed. The post-pruning photograph at left shows how far the main scaffold branches were allowed to develop. Some extend 10 feet or more, nearly reaching the branches of other trees.

These days, pruning the mulberries isn't the thoughtful, decision-demanding process that it once was. Each year, fishing pole length new growth is removed to its source, leaving only the branch structure established years ago.

On a young tree, start with horizontal branches that are slightly higher up than where you eventually want them; as they grow outward and their diameters enlarge, branches will dip.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Jan 1, 1989
Words:259
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