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Pine and Evergreen – Prune in June

In Minneapolis today workers hoisted the last steel beam to the top of the new baseball stadium.

Attached to the steel beam was a pine tree.

The tradition goes back some 1200 years to the Vikings, (somehow appropriate). Scandinavian builders topped off their buildings with a sheaf of grain for the horse of their beloved god, Odin. For his part, Odin was so pleased with this that he bestowed good luck on the future occupants.

pine and evergreen
pine and evergreen

As the Vikings spread throughout (conquered) Europe, they brought their topping off practice with them. Britons and Germans substituted trees for the grain and interestingly enough, the Scandinavians eventually switched to using a tree.

The tradition was brought to America by Scandinavian iron workers, who promptly added an American flag. Eventually it became common for the workers to sign the beam before it was set in place.

Not only does raising a pine tree commemorate building to the highest point of the structure, it also celebrates doing so without serious injury to the workers.

Pine and evergreen have long symbolized hope to humanity. During the cold, dark, seemingly lifeless days of winter, the pine and evergreen remain green and look alive.

For the most part, pine trees do not need pruning. If you do prune a pine, don’t remove whole branches; the tree may never recover. If a branch is growing into a path, for instance, cut a few inches off the tip rather than the entire branch.

Evergreen shrubs and small trees are often pruned to maintain their size and shape in the landscape. June is the ideal time for this.

Again, prune sparingly. Only prune off the tips of the branches. If it is necessary to remove an entire branch, do not cut it off flush with the main trunk, leave a quarter inch stump.

If you have an large pine or evergreen which has overgrown its space and you’re tempted to cut off the bottom branches, do the tree and yourself a favor and have the tree removed.

Cutting off the lower branches of an evergreen removes the lowest level of support for snow-filled branches. Eventually, starting at the bottom, the remaining branches will break under the weight of the snow.

Remove the tree and plant something that loves acid soil, like blueberries or rhododendrons.

Blueberries taste a lot better than pine cones anyway.

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