Spring 2007 was like that here in the garden at Crocker Croft. Consequently, rebounding (as Nature is prone to do) the following spring (2008), overly abundant, even copious, buds, blooms, and seed-filled fruits were produced to make amends for the previous stingy spread at Nature's table.
Oh, me, that boom then bust in reverse sends a message to the gardener. Where we had almost caught up with the digging of wild trees, shrubs, and vines from the flower beds, borders and slopes, and thought the end was in sight, now there will be many times more planted by the wind and birds. The work load increases.
While the holly trees are gorgeous with their heavy crop of red berries that we enjoy, the black walnut trees have dropped the largest crop of fruit that I have seen since we moved here. That, I do not enjoy.
Don't get me wrong. I like the flavor of black walnuts, but I do not collect them for shelling. The process is too long and bothersome. If I were starving, I would take the trouble; but I am not.
On my grandfather's farm where I was born and reared, there was one black walnut tree. It had been planted at the front corner of the garage right at the driveway. When the nuts dropped, my grandfather swept them over behind the parked cars. That way, every time any one drove out and back in, they drove over the walnuts which mashed the green husk covering the nut. After they had been driven over for a few weeks, it was much easier to remove the rest of it, but the juglan still stained our hands brown.
The next step was to crack the super hard walnut shell, it had to be done by hammer with the nut placed on an iron anvil. After they were all cracked, many hours were spent with nut picks probing the tight, circuitous little tunnels where the meats were hidden. The English (Persian) walnuts are easy to crack and the meats practically fall out without assistance. Not so the black walnut, it is rather difficult. But, worth the effort if you like to eat them baked in cookies and black walnut cake.
There was one black walnut tree on this property, but I had it taken out because: (1) They produce a chemical called juglan that kills, or at least subdues, the health and growth of plants surrounding it. That is its way of reducing competition. The roots exude the chemical, and it is found in almost every part of the plant: falling leaves, fruit husks, twigs, etc. (2) Due to health issues, they cause me excruciating pain when I step on a walnut. (3) The squirrels bury them all over the place. Of course, our beds and borders are easy digging so that is where they plant them. The next spring up come dozens of black walnut trees that we have to find and dig out.
Removing the tree on our property did not take care of the problems. One next door neighbor (85 years old) has a walnut tree within arms reach of the fence at our mutual property line. I tried to buy that tree, but he wouldn't hear of it. (Phooey!!) I was going to have it removed. He wants the walnuts. He usually says, "There weren't many walnuts this year." I toss back, "Oh, yes, there were; they are over here on my side!" So, I have to painfully bend over a few hundred times to pick them up and throw them on his side... or, pay someone by the hour to do it for me.
It is bad enough that when I step on them the pain nearly sends me through the clouds, but also, they roll when anyone steps on them. It is bad enough to roll on them while walking on the narrow, fairly flat North Path, but most of them are hidden in the vegetation on The Bank (a steep bank section of the garden). Believe me, when one rolls underfoot on that steep, steep bank, it is not good! We go rolling downhill, tail over teacups! I can tell you, if I were a cussing person, the air over that area would be permanently blue! So, there we are; that is the story. The squirrels are in hogs heaven this autumn.
One day in November, as I was sitting on a cushion on the ground, methodically weeding part of the Island Bed of wild garlic cloves and other bad things one square inch at a time, our Local Son approached me grinning widely.
He told me he had watched a squirrel with a big walnut in its mouth come up the path from the dell (not, North Path). It went to the Island Bed, looked about for a few seconds, chose a spot behind me, and, unbeknownst to me, quietly buried the walnut and patted down the dirt with its two front paws and loped away back down the hill. I never knew it was there! I'm weeding... and he's planting weeds! There is no justice!
In my own little world.