Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter pruning

The horticulture staff has been busy this week pruning trees inside the Conservatory. Pruning is essential to maintain the health of our plants and the aesthetics of our displays. Although we prune trees all year-round on an as needed basis, winter is when we do the most extensive pruning. We face unique challenges growing plants in an indoor environment versus an outdoor landscape. While plants outdoors have all gone dormant during the cold months of winter, the plants inside the warm, tropical-like Conservatory continue to actively grow. Although the temperatures inside the Conservatory remain relatively constant throughout the year, the short days of winter bring a significant decrease in the amount of sunlight that the plants receive. Much of the tree pruning we do in winter allows more light to reach the understory plants which would otherwise struggle during these months of reduced sunlight. Pruning is also necessary to control the size of our trees. The potential mature height of many of our tree species is greater than the height of the Conservatory itself. It takes a continued effort to cut back trees that would naturally grow well beyond the ceiling. We are constantly amazed at how quickly the plants grow back after being pruned. Our work is never done!