Thursday, April 30, 2009

And Old Friend and a Mistake

We lost an old friend yesterday. A lovely pin oak that had shaded our front porch for the past nine years finally was felled by the Tree Man. What was once a full, round, towering tree had become reduced to something resembling a stick figure in the past three years. What was originally a ball of fire in the fall leaf season, had become a mass of sticks. We have long believed that when the driveway was paved it cut off the major source of water to this tree's root system. It may have been something else, but this tree had certainly failed to thrive the past few years. This year less than a third of the branches leafed out and it didn't even produce any "fuzzies", so we knew it was finally time to go.

Yesterday, when the Tree Man came to talk about removing the stump for my raised bed, we also had him look at the oak and all agreed that the time had come. "If it had been my tree, it would have come out a couple of years ago," said the Tree Man. Since we had asked him repeatedly about it, we found that answer a bit odd, but gave him the green light to come back at his convenience and take it out.

His convenience turned out to be six hours later. When we returned to the house around five the cherry picker was in our driveway and the Tree Man's son was in the basket cutting down the truck of the oak. I was a bit sorry not to have the opportunity to take a few photos before they started and formally bid it farewell, but progress had moved on past me. And maybe it was easier to arrive too late and not have second thoughts.

Of course, there is good news, too. Very near the center of this bed is a nice looking volunteer dogwood. Given a couple of years and more sun, it should become just the thing to fill this spot. So, we will add a couple of azaleas to fill in the void and let the periwinkle grow over the stump and in five years, a stranger will never guess that a beautiful oak once graced that spot.

A Mistake: Those of you who are eagle-eyed will notice that there is also a conifer missing at the corner of the porch. It was one of the first trees I bought and I got fooled. It was sold as an Emerald Arborvitae (15 feet tall in 15 years), but it turns out to have been a Green Giant Arbovitae (60 feet eventually). I had imagined a nice mini-Christmas tree at the corner that I could decorate annually - leaning off the porch to reach the top as it grew. Instead it rapidly outgrew any ladder I had and we had started trying to control its breadth by shearing the sides until it looked like soup can with a pointy top - not a pretty sight!

We had decided to take it down ourselves this week - in time for the neighborhood cleanup this weekend. But in the end we got the Tree Man to do that, too, so it will soon be nice mulch for some other tree. There is a pair of mourning doves, however, that keep walking up and down the porch railing looking for it. We had waited until their brood fledged and flew away, but apparently they had plans for reusing the nest.

Plans: For now that side is pretty bare looking, and sun will certainly be a factor in the living room this summer. We plan to clean the porch well and then paint the posts and railings - with a mildew retardant added to the paint - before we do too much more landscaping. But my plan is to continue the nandinas and hawthorns on around the corner in a curve, with something low to fill in the point of the corner. And then a purple clematis - Jackmanii, I think - to grow up the corner and on up the post. Let's check that out in two years!

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