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Redwoods? Dogwoods

Between the pond (now a swamp like Reed filled hole and the rockery, a grass covered mound with the occasional battling flower and plant battling into the sunlight) , is a tree. I have a vague childhood memory that it was referred to as a redwood, but it may just be that my child brain remembers it as having red stems.

The family rumours indicate that it appears to have been bought as part of an offer from a magazine. This makes it very difficult to identify. It has a few beautiful red leaves in autumn but most are green.

The tree has lots of straight branches beneath it's canopy which could be water shoots, the original branches though are shaped much like any other tree, red Robin springs to mind. To my knowledge the tree has never been pruned. It is a pretty shape but is now very dense and over grown, causing too much shade for the pond and surrounding pathways. Even if these were to be cleared of moss they could not be used due to the over hanging tree.

No light gets to the floor around and only nettles and ivy survive, apparently, but on the fringes, you can spot on occasion the odd struggling bulb or shade growing plant, possibly planted by Dad, possibly self seeded.

The floor directly around the trunk is covered in moss and ivy, no nettles here except around the edges. It's too dark. The branches are green in a myriad of shades depending on their age.

I need to do something to thin it out, it's too dense and is growing into everything surrounding, starving everything of light.

I've looked up redwood as the wood has a red tinge, as redwoods are absolutely huge, it doesn't look like it's one of those, this is only 3m tall. So back to the dogwood then.

I have vague memories of it being much darker colours on the stems with a mix of red leaves.

I need to research the leaves and the branches and am considering cutting a few back to see what happens. I would like to cut back to allow planting flowers under the tree so that mum can walk round to watch them growing through the season, I particularly like bulbs and so does mum. There are so many flowers for shade it's very inspiring to consider what I could do.

Having gone back to the tree in winter, I'm increasingly confident that it is a dogwood. I have had a look out for them when out and about . They seem to get pruned back to the stump each season or so. I'm a bit frightened of pollarding this though in case I'm wrong

I can't help worrying though that the bush is actually something else, such as a red robin, in which case I need a different plan. I also need to consider that when I lovingly rune something back and do nothing to the surrounding area nettles and other nasties quickly take over and choke my hard work.

The only way I will know is to thin it out. Cut out the suckers and wait to see what it does. Also wait for the nettles which will inevitably arrive when I thin out. Guess I'll be under planting sooner than expected.

I have researched no dig gardening. Am hoping this may be a salvation for me in future, allowing me to de-weed with heavy cardboard where I can and then cover with mulch.

Once I have cut back and cleared up I can then plant out next time I visit.

But first I need to leave it for a year to make note of what is already there- especially things that die back and bulbs- don't want to kill anything off accidentally by loading piles of card on top of it. I also need to do serious ivy control before placing the card as I think ivy may be no respecter of card.

Time to scrounge lots of cardboard and start planning

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