We aim to enhance the existing structure of a tree while shaping it for new growth, both of which add to the overall appearance of the tree. It is also possible to blend the tree with other landscape features, such as water, rocks or other trees and shrubs.
We approach each tree with the long view in mind. Limb crossings and other structural problems may take more than one season to correct. This allows us to leave the canopy more or less intact, so the tree still looks good for the current season.
In the end the work becomes somewhat contemplative, not unlike Japanese Flower Arranging. The concentration is enveloping, where subject and pruner meet in a two sided activity, the tree actually responding in movement as the work proceeds.
Learning this art requires a commitment of two to three years in what amounts to an apprenticeship. Students are given progressive instruction in correct handling of trees. After 3-4 years, enough skill is gained to take a tree from start to finish with little or no supervision. Until that time, the work is handled as a team, with a senior member of the team guiding the effort and supervising junior team members.