Short back and sides Posted on November 6, 2015

There hasn’t been a cold night yet to press the leaf-release-button. It must be just the short grey days: something is dislodging them – or are they simply falling from fatigue? I stand in the still air of the garden watching them drift nonchalantly down, lodging momentarily on twigs not their own, resting on a shoot from the hedge, then sifting silently into the piles on the floor. The trees in the park are having a gala autumn, in slow motion, as there has been no frost. Ours sadly are a sycamore and a walnut – so no fireworks.

We need the trees bare before we can start on their biannual short back and sides. At least half the canopy of the 40 foot sycamore has to come off to keep it within reasonable bounds for us and our neighbours. I secretly hope a big west wind will attack it soon so at least some of the leaves land in our neighbours’ gardens. We’ve already filled half a dozen bin bags.The branches, when we cut them, will make a pile the size of a small car – all of which we have to ferry through a house to get to the street. To have no side passage and no back gate is a serious disadvantage – but typical of huggermugger Victorian development. I hate to think what it was like when there was a dunny in the back yard.

This year with luck we can use our neighbour’s house for the portage to the road; it will still be a building site as it has been for over a year. Only another twelve months to go, they assure us.

Hugh’s Gardening Books


Trees was first published in 1973 as The International Book of Trees, two years after The World Atlas of Wine….

Hugh’s Wine Books

World Atlas of Wine 8th edition

I started work on The World Atlas of Wine almost 50 years ago, in 1970. After four editions, at six-year…

Friends of Trad

The Garden Museum