Up the ladder

Just one view of Mark’s pruning efforts this week

In a garden with many trees, ladders are a part of our life. While our son, Theo, and I have been down in the park clearing the ponds and the stream of invasive weeds (lots of heavy raking), Mark has been up the top doing a round of summer pruning. Particularly cherry trees which need to be pruned right now, since summer is already morphing into autumn. You can see the extension ladder up Prunus Pearly Shadows to the right of the photo.

I am always in awe of how much material Mark can remove when pruning, without it showing except to the most discerning eye. This is a high level and under-appreciated skill though he does say it takes him a great deal of time looking before he ever makes the cuts. And he is forever up and down the ladders to look again from all angles and locations. For you cannot glue a branch back on if you get it wrong and find that you have just destroyed the shape of the tree by taking the wrong piece off.

Mark, being an agile and wiry man with very good balance, has given me the most alarming photos of how not to use ladders. Do not try this at home. He would like a disclaimer added that he is not stupid. He only does this with the ladder in a stable position and with something firm to hand that he can grab should anything go awry. Never with the chainsaw. He is extremely mindful of safety and caution with the chainsaw when mistakes can be fatal.

Because ladders play such a role in our lives, we were pretty interested in this permanent ladder structure seen attached to a tree in a tourist park in Jinghong, near China’s southern border. Presumably this tree is climbed regularly to warrant the construction of a ladder, although the reason why was not clear to us at the time. It can’t be that good for the long term health of the tree to have the wooden pegs bored into its trunk but at least they are not nails.

Who needs ladders, anyway? A friend shared this link via Facebook this week – how a Vietnamese tactical police unit climbs the outside of buildings with just a length of bamboo. No, it does not involve pole vaulting. We were pretty impressed, I tell you, and it has given Mark a new range of jokes about how we can dispense with ladders here and follow their lead. Who needs aluminium ladders when we have a wonderful resource of bamboo growing here? It would solve the problem of the oft-asked question here of where the ladders are when one of us need one and there are none in the shed.

5 thoughts on “Up the ladder

  1. Mark Hubbard

    My Achilles Heel is heights. Can’t do ladders (have to send Mrs H up). It’s why I’ve never understood bungy jumping or mountaineering (well, latter because dying in the freezing cold in the most unimaginable misery, also). Luckily in Sounds the busy doesn’t grow much higher than me, so that solves a lot of the problem. I miss big old English trees, though.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      You would never survive here. Being able to go up and down ladders is a prerequisite. Though only Mark does the extension ladder work.

  2. Graeme Smart

    Take care Mark. I also engage in such activities but last weekend fell 2.5m and did a trampoline landing on my back. Winded, managed to walk home, after 1 hour still couldn’t breathe properly, called medical helpline who sent an ambulance. After 5 hours, 5 x-rays and painkillers with sandwiches they sent me home from hospital. I’m not allowed to climb ladders till a fractured vertebra is mended. I can’t even cut the hedge.
    A battery mini-chain-saw on the end of a pole might be a safer pruning practice.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I am afraid Mark laughed, Graeme, but ruefully and in a loving, caring, old friend sort of way. That sounds bloody awful. But when Mark is the offspring of a man who hurt himself falling out of an avocado tree, aged about 83, I fear he may be a lost cause. Having shocked myself with a knee injury two days ago (yet to be diagnosed due to swelling, but may be either ligaments or hamstring), I am more cautious. Currently relieved that the knee appears as if it should recover without the need for surgery, but I imagine a fractured vertebrae is decidedly scary.

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