Watching the men in the trees reminded me of the time thirteen years ago we had so much work done that our little three-year-old granddaughter called them "bird-man". After it was all over, the next time she came she looked out the back window into the trees and said, "Where's the bird-man?"
When we had the ice storm of Feb. 2003 an almost indescribable amount of work was done, but there was one hanger remaining. It was a large limb of a hackberry tree growing on the steep bank. The height from the limb to the ground where it dropped off below was dizzying to me. That February I let it stay, my nerves had had all they could stand. I was afraid if we kept pushing, someone was going to get hurt. I told the crews working at that time to leave it hanging. I thought it was too dangerous.
That hanger leafed out that spring and the next three springs. In 2007 it did not leaf out. When I made my list for the next round of work by a professional tree service company, I put the hanger on my list. I decided it was time. I was afraid it might fall when someone was working beneath it. Also, I hesitated to plant any new shrubs or perennials below it, because if, no when, it fell as it would eventually, I knew what was under the big fallen limb would be destroyed.
When the supervisor came to go over my list with me, I talked to him about it. He laughed at me and said it would be no trouble at all. I volunteered that the large, heavy portion could be left where it fell if they could position it horizontally to the slope to settle in and help retain soil being washed downhill, but I wanted the bushy parts taken away. So, that is what they did. Here are a few photos. I am happy to report no one got hurt.
We were sorry to have one of our fifty-plus-year-old sugar maple street trees removed, but it was rotting in the center and was 85% dead overall. As I wrote in History of the Garden those sugar maples were planted by the developer as soon as the neighborhood streets were laid out and before the houses were built. The mature trees made a lovely setting the year round, but especially beautiful in spring and autumn.
I have noticed the trees at the end of our street nearest the artery street with the high volume of vehicular traffic were the first to go. I suspect a combination of disease and air pollution is the culprit and it has gradually moved along our street until it reached ours. Our two were the last ones planted on our side and now one of them is gone.
Our other one is the healthiest and prettiest one left in The Colony. Visitors frequently have comment on how lovely it is. We recently found out why. Our sewer backed up and to make a long story short, the roots of that tree had broken our sewer line near the street at a weak spot where a joint pipe made a 45% angle. No way of knowing how long it has been that way, but that individual had all the water and fertilizer it needed year round! Lucky tree! No wonder it so beautiful!
Here are photos of the sick maple being removed, clicking on them may make it easier to see the activity going on.
Lower limbs already removed.
That was the romantic tree with low, graceful, sweeping limbs beneath which small grandchildren and I spread our quilt and read books in the shade. Birds have planted dogwoods under it. I think they survived the tree work, but now they will be exposed to hot sun when they, being under-story trees, prefer shade. Maybe they will be OK anyway. There are other older dogwoods in the front yard. They suffer sun scald and powdery mildew. They do not thrive in the sun, but they have lived a number of years. They are in decline now and we had the men cut out dead portions of those as well. The maple tree stump was ground out a few days after the major work.
The following photos show the old bur oak at the end of the house where North Path originates. You can see decline in the photos. I printed out the following three to show to the tree workers so they could see the decline and get an idea of what needed to be done. I was concerned dead limbs would fall not only on the house, but also on the pergola that runs along the end of the house over the Shade Garden.
Number one shows the bur oak in June (2007). The dead limb where the hawks perched to eat their prey is obvious. They are going to miss that limb, but I couldn't risk it falling and doing damage.
Number two was taken in August during our drought.
Number three was taken in September; the drought continued.
After the "haircut".
We do not have nearly as many trees as we did when we moved here. To me, each represents an investment of time - a long time - a lifetime of time. I hate to loose them, but nothing stays the same. We will cherish and enjoy what we have, and think about where new young trees need to be planted - or allowed to remain.
Wind and birds plant trees along with all the other wild plants. Most of them I have to weed out, but if a tree seedling comes up in a good position, e.g. not underneath overhead utility wires and not too close to something else, I allow it to remain.
A very fine, young bur oak came up in the back of the house and, recognized, has been protected and nurtured. It can be seen in these photos to the right of the Magnolia grandiflora and with a back drop of a large Leather Leaf Viburnum shrub.
Let's get a little closer to it, maybe you will see it better. It's turning out to be a very nice young tree. I plan to eventually remove some lower limbs so that when it is large it will produce high shade and take command of the area. I was concerned by it being so close to the Magnolia which will get very large, but one arborist thought it would be alright in the competition.
The next shot was taken from a side. As you can see, it is getting to be a good size; seems like only yesterday it was an acorn sprout. It looks as if the tree is leaning, but that is an optical illusion caused by the land sloping all directions. I get really tired of working on slopes; I stay dizzy headed most of the time!
I won't be around to see it as a mature tree, but someone will be. I hope they enjoy it.
If you are curious about the pink and white flags, they are explained here:
The Three-Color Flag System.