July — here, in the Southern Hemisphere, the second month of winter. In southern Australia, this means just-above freezing temperatures, rain, rain, and more rain. It also means pruning season. We’ve inherited several fruit trees and herbs in our garden, and we are learning how to care for them. My husband uses the pruning shears with confidence, while I cringe every time he marks a plant for pruning. Each time a branch is trimmed, I worry that growth will stop, that the plant will be permanently wounded. To me, pruning seems counterintuitive — how can cutting back branches possibly do good? I have seen enough of the result to calm my fears: his pruning only produces more vigorous growth, and the plants flourish.

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