Green thumb:

Pruning art: In West Asheville, Bill Whipple and a small group of volunteers have transformed a steep slope into an edible garden of fruit and nut trees in West Asheville** park. photo by Bill Rhodes
Pruning art: In West Asheville, Bill Whipple and a small group of volunteers have transformed a steep slope into an edible garden of fruit and nut trees in West Asheville** park. photo by Bill Rhodes

“You have to keep in mind why you are pruning your fruit trees,” says local fruit magnate and artist Bill Whipple. “The goal is to let them make more fruit.”

To that end, keeping stronger stems, making more space for light and directing the tree upwards, are all good goals, he explains. Whipple also notes that it is best to prune before serious growth occurs. Obviously, cut any dead, damaged or diseased limbs.

Keep in mind the general direction you want the tree to grow —generally, branches at 45 to 60 degrees makes stronger trees and more fruit. If you have branches that are crossing, cut a spreader and brace them apart, he suggests.

“Relax and have fun with it, you won’t kill the tree,” advises Whipple. “If you do, well, start again, re-plant. It is worth the effort.”

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