Anyone who’s been subjected to this Word of the Week lark from day one will remember that “prune” is what Victorians used to say in order to pull the appropriate face when being photographed. That was before the wanton “cheese” took over and the whole fabric of polite society began to fall apart.
A fine, upstanding word, prune. It has three very diverse meanings: first up, the dried plum, Prunus domestica, that you eat at your own risk; secondly, an insulting term for someone who sours the occasion – a sourpuss, a party pooper, a git; and thirdly, the verb to reduce by removing elements, normally applied to trees and shrubs.
By the way, if you haven’t summer pruned your fruit trees yet, now is the time.
And if you need advice, call an arborist. Arborists are experts in all things trees. The Arboricultural Association has one of the great URLs: Trees.org.uk. It does exactly what it says on the trunk. Arborists are not tree huggers, they are tree consultants and they carry an incredible amount of power. Why? Because even in these days of powerful multinational corporations riding roughshod over the land, anything of natural importance like a tree, a newt or a butterfly can still bring the bulldozers to a grinding halt.
Kinda reassuring, isn’t it?
It doesn’t matter how many zillions you turn over or how many farmers you put out of business each year, if there’s a tree standing in the way of your new hypermarket and an arborist deems it to be of importance, you have to find some other bit of landscape to blot.
Entomologists carry similar clout. You might not think so to look at them but, as Shakespeare might have said if he’d worked for Tesco, “the butterfly net is mightier than the gun”. Enterologists, on the other hand, have less influence when it comes to building on the Green Belt. They tend to be more concerned with prune encounters of the first kind.