Workshops and Courses



Over the next few months I will be instructing a few workshops and courses in the Vancouver BC area. The topics and contact information to register are below. I am always looking for more opportunities to teach about tree training, pruning and grafting, so if you know of such an opportunity, please contact me.

November 16, 2013.

Hands on Apple and Pear Pruning Workshop: 10:00 am – 12 noon. This is a fundraiser for the Vancouver Tree Fruit Project Society. This workshop will take place in the backyard of one of of the tree owners volunteers who allow this project to harvest their fruit for donation to various community groups in Vancouver. During the workshop two mature trees, a pear and an apple will be completely pruned. Participants will learn the critical information they need to know to prune and manage their trees, how to approach pruning large trees and they will also get hands on pruning experience. Click here to register.

November 23, 2013

Put More Fruit on Your Trees: 1:30 – 4:00 pm. A VanDusen Botanical Garden ( education course. Learn techniques to get the most from your apples, pears, plums, apricots and peaches. The topics will include: pruning and training for optimal fruit production, soil, watering and tree nutrition, improving blooms and pollination and caring for your growing fruit till harvest. Click here to register.

November 23, 2013

Prune to Improve Conifers: 10:00 am – 12:30 pm. Learn how to prune and direct the growth of your conifers to improve their look and function.  Understand how the plants naturally grow in order to prune for their long term health. It will include how to fix hedges with holes, repair bad pruning jobs, and how to correct specimen trees with unsightly gaps. If you have a problem plant, bring a picture of it for discussion.

January 25, 2014

Tree Grafting Fun: 10:00 am – 12:30 pm.  A VanDusen Botanical Garden ( education course. Learn how to add a new variety onto a tree in your yard, repair damage to tree trunks, or graft a pollinizer branch on a non-performing tree. Get hands-on practice of safe grafting techniques including chip, whip-and tongue, bridge, tread and bark grafting. This course will also explain the basic botany behind grafting, and will demo tools and machines used by the pros. Bring a sharp, thin bladed knife (a grafting knife if you have one). Click here to register.

February 8, 2014

Grow Tree Fruits in Containers: 10:00 am – 12:30 pm.  A VanDusen Botanical Garden ( education course. Learn how to grow apples, pears, plums, apricots, peaches, figs and other tree fruit in containers on your balcony of patio. Topics will include selecting trees (including rootstocks, varieties and size of tree), containers, soils, pruning and training including espalier training, trees with multiple fruit, and winter protection of your trees. Click here to register.

February 25, 2014

Tree Trickery: Train your trees by directing their growth and forcing them to grow in specific ways. Manipulating tree growth can be cone to create serpent, weeping or twisting ornamental trees, or to espalier fruit trees and more. Learn the techniques of tree training, and where to see interesting examples in Vancouver. Learn how to espalier a woody plant, forming it into a vertical trunk with horizontal branches in a single plane, creating attractive and productive fruit trees for small spaces.

March 22, 2014

Success with Fruit Trees: Grow delicious juicy fruit on your trees in your home garden. Richard will guide you through all aspects of fruit growing including site preparation, general maintenance, pollination and fruit set, pruning, and training. He will also cover how to renew and refresh older trees, and control of common pests and diseases.

Please note. Handouts and other information connected to all of these courses and workshops will be posted on this site. If you wish private one-on-one instruction in person or remotely over the internet, or want to organize a small group workshop using your trees (your trees will get pruned in the process) please contact me.

Why Directing Trees?

Directing trees is my term for working with trees to achieve certain goals. I am sure you have goals for your trees, and all the other plants in your garden and/or farm. These goals may be to produce fruit or nuts, to block an ugly sight, to create shade for your deck, or simply to have attractive flowers or foliage. In most situations you are unlikely to fully achieve these goals if you do nothing, or if you randomly prune your trees once a year. The best way is to direct your trees towards those goals.Candilabra

Directing trees involves learning how they grow and how they are likely to react to anything you do to them, evaluating how well they are growing at the moment, learning where and when flower buds are formed (for flowering trees), learning how to encourage them to form more flower buds, and the list goes on.

What directing trees is NOT is a recipe or set of rules for pruning, or a list of things you must or must not do, like you will find in many pruning publications. Rules of this type were developed by well-meaning avid gardeners, horticulturists, and arborists. Even though these rules are intended to communicate how to do things right the first time, many gardeners tell me they are confusing and often difficult to apply. The trouble is that these rules are actually just styles or systems that someone felt were the “best way”, and over time they have become “the right way”.

There are two problems with this. The first is that the model trees used in pruning books, workshops, websites, and online videos rarely look like the trees in your backyard or farm, and they are usually not growing in soil like yours or in your climate. The second problem is that there is no one “right way”. There is a disconnect between how our trees grow and react in our yards and farms, and the rules or systems we are given as the “right way” to prune them.

Directing trees overcomes these problems by focusing on how trees grow, how to read how they are growing, and how they are likely to react to things we do to them. With this knowledge, you and I should be able to successfully direct our trees to achieve our goals for them.

Very few of the pruning books available provide the information you need to know about tree growth in order to direct them. These books are still very useful as they can provide important background information about your trees, such as when the flower buds are formed, what time of year they flower, their potential size and shape, and problem diseases and pests. You will need to consider all of this information when you prune. But don’t get caught up in the “only one way to prune” or the “only time of year to prune”; these are just rules that someone thought up.

Please let me know you thoughts about this point of view.