Resources on Pruning in the Arboretum Library, December 2011

With the recent windstorm in the San Gabriel Valley, I wanted to highlight Arboretum Library resources on pruning. Here is a link to a search of all the library items on the subject.  The covers below, though, are a grouping of items that show the range of important books and magazines.   

Tree pruning : a worldwide photo guide by Alex L. Shigo. Durham, N.H. : Shigo and Trees, c1989. Call no. SB125 .S555t
Alex Shigo,, was the one person who really changed how people thought about pruning in the 20th century.  Most of his career was spent as a plant pathologist for the United States Forest Service where he studied tree decay and from that he proposed a whole new way to prune.  His books are self-published, but almost have a cult status.  Here is a link to the rest of his books in the Arboretum Library.

George L. Brown’s book, The Pruning of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers, (2nd ed. revised by Tony Kirkham, Portland, OR : Timber Press, c2004, call. no. SB125 .B76 2004) is a current example of a standard, definitive book on pruning.  The principles of pruning are current and that is where much can be learned.  George Brown and now Tony Kirkham have spent their lives studying pruning.  The challenge for Southern California gardeners is that many of our popular plants are not included in the encyclopedia section where recommendations on individual kinds of plants are given.  

Cass Turnbull’s book gets closer to home. (Cass Turbull's Guide to Pruning, Seattle, WA : Sasquatch Books, c2006, call no. SB125 .T87 2006) She is based in Seattle and is a one woman crusade against bad pruning.  She started an entire organization, PlantAmnesty ( devoted to appropriate pruning.  The plants get slightly more appropriate too.

Roy Hudson’s book was the first pruning book put in my hands by the librarian at Strybing Arboretum (now San Francisco Botanical Garden).  She knew Roy Hudson.  He was the Supervisor of Maintenance in Golden Gate Park.  She knew his hands-on-experience in a California setting.  This book from 1952 is still quite viable as a resource.  Sunset pruning handbook by Roy L. Hudson, illustrated by Robert Blanchard, Menlo Park, Calif., Lane Pub. Co. c1952. call no. SB125 .H83 1952

How to Prune Fruit Trees by R. Sanford Martin ; illustrated by the author. Hollywood : Murray & Gee, 1944. call no. SB125 .M37 1944
How to Prune Western Shrubs by R. Sanford Martin ; illustrated by the author. 5th ed. [Hollywood?] : R. Sanford Martin, 1945, c1944. call no. SB125 .M37Ho 1945
R. Sanford Martin is Southern California’s own.  That means the books are about pruning in Southern California on plants that grow here.  They were written in the 1930 and 40s and are still useful today because of the local information.  Our Botanical Information Consultant, Frank McDonough, says the fruit tree book is the “best ever” on the subject.

The International Society of Arboriculture’s ( mission is “Through research, technology, and education, the International Society of Arboriculture promotes the professional practice of arboriculture and fosters a greater worldwide awareness of the benefits of trees.”  Their publications are directed at professionals, but just by browsing their newsletter and scientific journal a non-professional can quickly learn the issues and read fascinating insights about trees and their care.  Here is an example of an article I’ve selected through the years as relevant to southern California tree issues. “Effects of tree stabilization systems on tree health and implications for planting specifications”  by Kendra J. Labrosse, Robert C. Corry, and Youbin Zheng.  Arboriculture & Urban Forestry, v. 37, no. 5 (Sept. 2011),  p. 219-225.
And then as a librarian, I am always on the lookout for relevant items no matter where they are.  Here is an article from the American Journal of Botany on how wind effects trees.
The Arboretum Library is open to the public and circulates to Arboretum members.  The Library website: 

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