Plant Amnesty and Master Gardener Pruning Workshop

Seventeen Master Gardeners attended the four-hour workshop led by three instructors to promote correct pruning practices—April 6, 2024.

Christina Pfeiffer and Cynthia Welte, Edmonds College horticultural instructors, led the group, with Doreen Gillespie, from Master Gardeners of King County Plant Programs Manager, organizing the site, volunteers, and students. Mary Machala assisted from Plant Amnesty.

There was an hour introduction to pruning techniques; then a pruning demonstration of several plants; then a clinic where students were directed to select and prune a plant to practice newly formed skills. The instructors then toured the pruned plants, with students showing what they did and why they made their choices.

The Carkeek Park Demonstration Gardens were on display this day, with the beginnings of spring growth. The Lead Gardener, Drexie Malone, provided a brief history of the Gardens and accompanied the instructors as students worked on their projects.

We can compare before and after photos for several plants that were pruned by students and instructors. Plants were chosen for:

  • Lowering height
  • Reducing volume, increasing ventilation
  • Aid plant health and improved aesthetics

Before and after pruning

Salmonberry after pruning

This Salmonberry was growing beyond the boundaries of the path and into the other plants in the location. Students cut out the largest and oldest stems, leaving the younger stems to grow freely. No before photo was taken.

Cedar next to path
Cedar after limbing up
After, from the opposite direction

The Cedar tree growing close to the path is “limbed up” periodically as the tree grows up and out. One limb was removed to allow a 8-foot height limit for the path.

Mahonia at split rain fence before pruning
Mahonia after pruning

Mahonia nervosa located near the path and fence was growing into other plants; stems were removed both to limit its width and to open up the close growth inside the plant.

Snowberry before pruning
Snowberry after pruning

Snowberry in a small grove of same plants was minimized to allow a view beyond the multiple plants into the next garden.

Rhody being pruned
Rhody after pruning

A Rhody, growing underneath large, heritage Rhododendrons (planted in 1953) was minimized and dead wood removed to allow growth in an encroaching environment.