Radical Pruning

For weeks now, my response to the pandemic, has been to do lots of radical pruning. What does that mean?  You might think that it means cleaning out my studio or office or some other sort of spring cleaning that many artists spent the month of March doing. I applaud them! 

No. My radical pruning happened outside the house. I took a deeper look and, with knee pads and sun hat on, and armed with sharpened clippers, really went to town on the dead wood! There were plants that had never been pruned, mostly large bushes that had been ignored for decades.

“Dead wood” means old gray branches that take up room without doing any good for the look or health of the bush. I did radical pruning on bridal wreath spirea, blue mist spirea, potentilla, roses, red twig dogwood, and barberry. I removed old branches at the ground, and depending on the bush, removed little tiny spindly branches also, leaving the mid-life branches with the best size and color.

Rose after radical pruning






Red Twig Dogwood after pruning.


This was a satisfying activity, because I kept thinking about the metaphor of dead wood and old white men running the country. I can do little about the old gray leaders in government, but I can prune! Dead wood be gone!

At the same time, I felt a lot of gratitude for my very own old white Sowada man, who helped bundle sticks and haul them away. Thank you, Felix!

Lots of sticks to bundle






With the extreme pruning out of my system, I have moved on to transplanting some perennials into new spots, artfully placing rocks, and helping Felix plan a new raised bed in the back yard. Although not the same good feeling as radical pruning, it still feels pretty nice, because it is a form of composition. Arranging, combining, seeing the contrasts, using what you have in the garden or the refrigerator. I love this stuff!

When the virus was new to the U.S., a friend shared a word that her husband made up. It was flabberwhelmed! Very apt I thought. I have been trying to come up with my own word combinations. Featherchatter is the increased perception of birds talking. So loud! Cleanify is self-explanatory. Nodtoyou is the friendly we’re all in this together smile, wave, or nod from one neighbor to another, that in other times might not even happen. Mugsclutter is the zoom screen of flat faces in front of cluttered backgrounds. Another phenomenon of virtual meetings is interuptusoom. We also have prettydogpurrcat with all the extra attention given and solace provided by our pets.  And lastly splitflix, which is the back and forth of TV gloom and doom news and complete escapism. If you have word combos of your own, send them along as comments. 

It really is time to get back into my studio though. I need to schedule this back into my day, and do my composition with fabric








I am aware each day that the virus is doing a radical pruning job on humans and other animals of this planet. Great loss. There are no words that communicate the scope. Stay well and appreciate the silver lining of the times.

The recipe for April has sprouts in it. However, if you don’t have these, probably chopped cabbage and lettuce would substitute well. Chicken  Trio/Sprouts Trio: Combine left over diced chicken with cooked (cooled) diced sweet potato and quinoa to total 3-4 cups. Add olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, onion powder, and basil. This mixture will go on top of the greens or sprouts trio. Combine chopped lentil, clover and alfalfa sprouts with oil and vinegar and salt. (I chop the sprouts because they are easier to eat.) Lentil sprouts have a unique flavor that pairs well with the chicken trio topping. There should be 4 or more cups of greens or sprouts.

Sprout Towers



Drying a bit on a towel

Chopped alfalfa sprouts


4 Responses to Radical Pruning

Cathrine Gallilee

Fun to read, Joan – Thank-you! Love the new words – might have to print out to carry with me and try to slip into conversation – who knows??? Might be fun to see your words in common use!!! That paragraph might make a good letter to the Editor – am sure they’re always happy to receive interesting non-political stuff!!!! Just a thought . . .

phil lack

Great post!! I have been working on my yard, too, after our last batch of snow… so easy to have shrubs that are overgrown.. I’m growing sprouts, too, but discovered a large batch of ants under the tray, so I’m going to put them outside in my little grow house. Could not understand where all the ants were coming from!!


I enjoyed this blog especially as you hit on many of my emotions and I too love the new words. We must use them and who knows perhaps they will be picked up and shared?

My new word would be chatbirds. As my windows are open today and I have been over come be the cacophony I can hear as the birds outside communicate.

Joan Sowada

I thought that featherchatter had the loud birds covered! Yours is good too.


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