Pollarding the Golden Scots Elm

As usual, the foliar display of the golden Scots elm is so vigorous, so bright, that to call it exuberant or, even, eyepopping seems like understatement. Ulmus glabra 'Aurea' tree provides the most reliable season-long display of colorful foliage of any woody plant hardy colder than Zone 7.


Ulmus glabra Aurea wide 061818 915


But even after several years of growth since the last pollarding, the branches were still not mature enough to flower well. Elm flowers are produced only on mature wood; because annual pollarding removes all the stems that formed the previous season—which were still juvenile at best—mature wood and, hence, flowers don't have time to develop. Perhaps if I waited a year or two—or three—before resuming pollarding, flowering maturity would have finally arrived.


Surely the branches you see here—three years old and fifteen feet long in late June—were mature enough to have flowered this past April.


Ulmus glabra Aurea narrow 061818 915.jpg


Alas, they were not. If I were to wait still another year in hopes of flowering, these branches might have become almost twenty feet long. They would have been dangerously uncontrollable as they fell to the ground during the pollarding. But without pollarding, this still-compact tree would soon transform into a free-range monster that would completely overwhelm its compact garden.


Pollarding just every three or four years, then, is the outer limit of practicality for this golden Scots elm, even though that interval is apparently too brief to permit the wood maturation necessary for flowering. Fine. This pollarded tree will be non-flowering forever, because the pollarding can't wait another season.


An hour later, the deed was done and, mercifully, without mishap. The difference is shocking, and the neighboring house—charming, so true—is now fully revealed.


Ulmus glabra Aurea overall 062018 closer 915 


I sawed most of the limbs back only to their lowest leaves not, as normal, down to their very base as in previous pollards. Simply, I was concerned about leaving the tree entirely defoliated, and am betting that, even if lower stems are reluctant to emerge this late in spring, the remaining older growth will carry the tree through.


Ulmus glabra Aurea overall 062018 closer still 915



Here's the September 4, 2018 Instagram of this Scots elm. In just two months and change, it had come roaring back.


Here's how to grow golden Scots elm.

Here's how lengthy and vigorous the first-year growth of a pollarded Scots elm is.

Here's how the canopy of this pollarded Scots elm looked in late February of 2017, giving no clue as to whether or not any stems were bearing flower buds.

Here's a close look at golden's Scots elm's intriguing flowers & the seed clusters that follow them.

Here's a close look at the profuse seed clusters of an august weeping Scots elm.


FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!


Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:


* indicates required