Many years ago I was transferred to Santa Ana, California. My new office was located on the corner of North Flower and Civic Center Drive. Prior to living in Southern California I had lived in some fairly harsh winter areas including Craig, Colorado and Burnsville, Minnesota and I moved to Santa Ana in late autumn. I remember the pleasant drive down Flower Street where, even in early winter, the street was lined with unusual flowering trees shaped like huge lollipops.
One afternoon I drove down the road toward home and noticed that the road crews had been hard at work and had chopped down all of the lollipop trees. Big city dump trucks were filled with the limbs of the once beautiful trees and all that was left lining the road were trunks about six feet tall with a knotty ball of wood where all of the branches had been. I went home and told my family that the city of Santa Ana had just killed all of the unusual beautiful trees.
But, I was wrong. Within weeks the trees sprouted new branches and all were leafed out and flowering again by Spring.
I was inspired by the Santa Ana Parks and Recreation crews and adopted this new radical trimming technique myself. Over the years sometimes it has failed me! Warning: The technique only works on certain plants and only in temperate climates.
Now to the post…
In early 2012 we worked to prepare a garden area around our home here in San Clemente. I tacked up lengths of bamboo to act as a trellis and planted a small bougainvilla plant and two yellow trumpet vines along the wall by our patio. By June 2012 the plants were started well and looked like this:
And the two trumpet vines looked like this:
As the plants grew I worked to wind them around the trellis supports and eventually they grew up to the top of and then over the wall. For over a year they looked lush and full with lots of green leaves and many flowers. The plants looked like this.
But, for most of last year I noticed fewer and fewer flowers and many of the leaves had fallen off leaving only gnarly looking wood intertwined along the wall. One day I rode my bike up the roadway on the other side of the wall and noticed the growth that had spilled over the fence was lush with green leaves and many flowers. A bit of research on the internet confirmed that these plants need to be trimmed back regularly as the flowers (especially on the trumpet plants) grow primarily on new growth branches.
So I harkened back to my Santa Ana days and dug out my pruning shears. I regret that I did not take a minute to photograph the plants prior to trimming, but after I was done I and my friend Wilmer had dragged away at least two pickup truck loads of bougainvilla and trumpet vine limbs. One trumpet vine limb was over twenty feet long and most of the bougainvilla limbs were twelve feet long or longer. The job was not without risk as the bougainvilla plant has sharp thorns along the vine which easily penetrated my garden gloves.
About a week after the big trimming day, I got out my camera and went out to document what we had done. For just a moment I wondered if perhaps I had been a bit overzealous in my trimming and may have simply killed off the once hearty plants. The “trimmed” plant stood naked looking like this:
I was a bit worried, but upon closer examination I was heartened to see some new buds.
So, I kept up watering and waited patiently.
Almost exactly a month later the plants looked like this today:
New flower buds are forming on all of the new growth areas on the trumpet vines and the bougainvilla is already flowering and reaching skyward.
The miracle of life goes on even in spite of overzealous pruning here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!
Neither the writer nor his wife accept any responsibility or liability for any plant loss resulting from persons inspired by this post!