It's never funny when trees and shrubs are battered by storms. While I was channel surfing, though, I stumbled across a "Three Stooges" skit that depicted this slapstick-comedy team hilariously satirizing tree surgeons as they pruned branches from a healthy tree.

Real-life tree surgeons are professionals that specialize in saving and beautifying trees and shrubs, mostly by judicious pruning. They have the equipment to reach tall limbs and dispose of litter. Plus, they use special saws that leave smooth wounds, which is important because smooth wounds heal sooner and are more likely to heal disease-free, as opposed to ragged ones.

Which reminds me. There's an ancient-Greek myth that explains how the first saw was created by Perdix, the nephew of Daedalus the Inventor.

Legend has it, Perdix got the idea for making a saw by studying fish spines. Daedalus, though, pushed Perdix off a cliff for upstaging him. As Perdix fell, he was saved by deities who changed him into the first partridge, a bird that supposedly nests close to the ground because it fears heights.


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Thanks to Perdix, today there are plenty of specialized saws, including wood-cutting saws designed for pruning trees and shrubs.

The pruning saw I use most has a crescent-moon shape and serrated teeth along a narrow, 12-inch blade that permits access to tight spaces.

On bigger branches, I use a chain saw. But I recently switched to using an electric one, instead of a gasoline-powered one, since the gasoline models I've tried fail to start when I need them most.

To prune tall boughs, I purchased a pruning saw mounted to a telescoping poll. The poll also has loppers that operate by pulling a rope—a nice tool for folks with a fear of heights.

Finally, I keep a pair of hand-held pruners handy to snip smaller twigs and narrow branches.

Incidentally, I always prune damaged limbs as soon as possible — regardless of the season — to keep otherwise healthy specimens from contracting diseases. But thanks to Perdix's observations of fish spines, at least I have tools to help plants heal disease-free; and thanks to the Three Stooges, I'm more quickly getting over the loss and disfigurement of several, good-looking specimens.

This week in the garden

When it comes to harvesting produce, although it seems counter-intuitive, the more you pick the more the plants produce. So keep picking.