This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
In growing plants into particular shapes and forms, the advantage and expediency of summer pinching or pruning of the young shoots is very apparent; as I have remarked before in these pages, many beautiful shrub-like plants may be produced by setting out small plants of such trees as the sour and sweet gums, sugar and red maples, or indeed any tree, and keeping it low and bushy by constantly repressing growth during summer. Trees with fine colored foliage are preferable. So with evergreens. We lately saw specimens of Norway fir, which have been for several years deprived of their leading shoots. They formed splendid masses of foliage, and could not be excelled for filling up shrubberies and close plantations. This is a feature in ornamental planting which we are desirous of seeing extended, as a ready method of producing effects, where close masses of low growth are desirable.
It is but the work of a moment to check the growth of a luxuriant shoot by pinching out its point in passing. By doing so at an early period, it not only checks the vigor at that particular point, but induces a stronger growth on other portions of the plant. Those superb specimens of green-house plants which occasionally grace the tables in the exhibition rooms of our horticultural societies, are produced by judicious pruning during their growth. Those who have an eye to symmetry of form and composition will at once detect and correct irregularity of growth; and the man who knows how to enjoy a garden, and has facilities for gratifying his taste, does not
"Govern only, or direct,
But much performs himself. No works, indeed,
That ask robust, tough sinews, bred to toil,
Servile employ; but such as may amuse,
Not tire, demanding rather skill than force".
If we desire to improve the form of a fruit tree and get rid of some of the superfluous wood, we should prune in winter; but if we desire fruit and a perfectly healed stump, we should, prune from the fifteenth of June to the twentieth of July. We have done this often with the happiest results. The fruit-buds form after this, and the operation suddenly cutting off its growth, produces buds; while the winter or early spring pruning will produce only wood.
In pruning ornamental trees in midsummer, the bark, instead of receding from the stump, grows over it, and in a few years will completely cover it and make a perfect amputation.
This pruning is done when the tree is taking its midsummer siesta, and then wakes up refreshed for another start, and the bark gradually steals over the stump as if ashamed of the shabby-loooking exposure.
When the tree is in full leaf, and presents its full form to us, we can see exactly where the pruning should be done, in order that while the over-growth may be removed, the symmetry of the tree may be preserved. Especially is midsummer pruning to be preferred, first, to produce buds on fruit-bearing trees as before stated; and second, when large limbs are to be removed. - Philadelphia Press.
Dr. Ball, of Kansas, says that trees which expend all their forces in the production of wood can produce little or no fruit. Indeed, it is not possible for any tree to produce fruit germ, and not again in some way disorganize it, unless the wood growth shall cease in time for the leaves to elaborate food enough to grow both leaf and fruit the following year.