Pruning, trimming and lopping of trees are similar necessities, but they differ in degree. Lopping is the drastic business of cutting off branches; whereas trimming involves the removal of their extremities, and pruning is more selective, perhaps for shaping a tree, stimulating growth, or providing space and light. Today I took the opportunity of fine weather to trim the tree that grows on my front lawn. September is a good time to do it, because leaves naturally fall from deciduous trees as growth slows down and sap ceases flowing in preparation for the winter months.
I am not an arboriculturist, nor am I a tree surgeon, nor do I have a City and Guilds certificate proving I am a qualified NPTC operative capable of carrying out tree work to British Standard 3998, but I have kept trees under control on my property for more years than I care to remember. As I was engaged in the process of trimming my tree, one of my neighbours asked if I was wearing a harness, and although it was patently obvious I was not, she also asked if I was wearing a safety helmet. I politely replied that I was not wearing either, and concluded she was making casual conversation for the sake of neighbourly friendship, or she was blind, but concerned for my welfare.
For further distraction, when I was at the top of the ladder straining with the secateurs in one hand and a walking stick in the other, which I was using to bring a branch nearer for a surgical nip, my wife leaned out of an upper window and asked if I was enjoying myself. I told her that when I was a kid I used to climb big trees to the highest point I would dare, simply for the buzz and the view. I assured her that standing at the top of the ladder, while the wind swayed the tree, me and the ladder, was almost as much fun now as when I was a risk-taking 12 year old.
Unscathed after two hours of trimming, and flushed with adrenaline, I sat back and admired my handiwork. The exercise of climbing the ladder, raking up and bagging the trimmings and taking the lot to the local recycling dump had brought a glow to my face and gladdened my heart. My wallet was just as full as when I started, and for another year I had avoided paying my local tree surgeon £60.00 to do the job.