I manage my forest.

Manzanita in foreground

Several trees overshadow one half of our back yard and make it feel forest-y. Only two of the trees are actually on our property, and the taller is a pine tree we are ashamed to say we haven’t identified. I spend a lot of time picking up its needles that fall all year, blowing and drifting over sweet woodruff, rhododendron, rosemary, campanula ground cover, and on to my dear manzanita.

If I were a good forester would go out each morning and groom my park, but it’s painstaking work, as the long needles get tangled in the various convoluted branches and sift down underneath the lower canopies.

When I was stretching my back to this task yesterday it turned into a general tidying-up of the “woods.” I pruned the manzanita some more, trying to maintain head clearance above the path it wants to span. We’ve already widened the path as much as possible to accommodate our favorite little tree.

My other goal in trimming it is to keep the natural curves of the shrub, so I try to envision the direction of future growth. Ideally it wouldn’t need pruning at all, but when we planted it we didn’t anticipate its leaning so sharply northward. I removed dead twigs and every needle I could see.

Then it was all ready for a photo session.
That pine tree looks amazingly healthy in the photo at top, but in this one you can see some of the clumps of brown needles just waiting to fall.
If we just focus in on one or two needles in a small space, they actually look artistically placed and ornamental.
I brought the manzanita prunings indoors to decorate my table.
They make me so happy.

8 thoughts on “I manage my forest.

  1. I love the sound of wind in pine trees – I think that would make up for the mess! And pine needles are an excellent mulch for acid-loving rhododendrons. Also strawberries, if you grow them. I have never seen a manzanita, but those branches are a lovely sculptural shape in your vase.


  2. I am with your manzanita…northward leaning. For all it's needling around, you must still thank your pine tree for all the privacy it affords you. It's fun to see your backyard garden…


  3. We have towering pine trees that line the length of our fence at the back of our backyard. None of them are actually on our property, but I am so grateful to have them there. They are gorgeous, they are homes to so many sweet chirping birds, and they shield the house from the morning sun.


  4. I like it all. I have only seen manzanita once white going through Utah. I picked some for my journal, but wished I could plant it where I live. No. That wouldn't work. I love the branches brought indoors.


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