Friday, June 22, 2012

When A Tree is a Big Mistake

* A note to my small cadre of readers- I am presently working on restoring a garden for a friend, and soon will start work on a second. This brings gardening back into my life on a scale greater than that of the pot garden in front of my windowsill. I plan to write about these projects. My blog is about many things,and I hope to find readers who appreciate that. People who want all recipes all the time will be disappointed, and will drift away- as some already have. This blog is going into its third year, and people do find it, though not in great numbers. I try to set a high standard, and am not interested in the Twitterverse, just as it is not interested in me. I will continue to write an eclectic blog about subjects dear to me. I hope it will continue to appeal to an audience who knows how to communicate in over 140 characters.

As I write this today, the parking lot outside my apartment is shaking with the sound of limbs being sawed off and branches being pulverized in the wood chipper. Another dead sycamore is coming down. For whoever landscaped these apartments planted the sycamore of woods and river bottoms as a street tree. Marooned in small patches of earth in an expanse of concrete. With no place for roots to grow, they are dying off a dozen at a time. Even the ones that seem content are dropping their leaves and littering the parking lot, and giving an Octoberish look to the scene.

Decades ago, the city of Brentwood planted Bradford pears along Old Hickory Boulevard near Maryland Farms. Now, I have heard it is illegal to plant them in that rich county where appearance is all and the Codes Department reigns supreme.

Young Bradford pears are neat looking trees that look as though they were born to line boulevards. But looking closer(and I have), one can see fissures where each limb meets the tree. These look ominous, and they are ominous, for when the next tornado spawner moves through, or even when there are some downburst winds off the local thunderstorms, off comes the limb, or down splits the tree.

I planted one in the front yard of my old house. And one day long ago when some garden ladies came visiting I heard my first warning. Edna Metcalf, the late garden columnist for the Tennessean came with them. Ms Metcalf liked my garden, but when she pointed to my tree she was less impressed."That is going to take over", she warned.

It did. It shaded out my cottage garden, and ended it. Nothing grew beneath it but monkey grass. It threatened the house and the electrical wires and one night in a routine July thunderstorm it split and destroyed a border and one of my Moonglow pears, which was rich with fruit. I had to hire a local teenager to clean it up, and until the day I left that house I never had an easy moment, wondering what it would fall on next.

Yesterday, as I stood in the West Meade garden I am working on, I looked up to the upper lawn above the terrace and the rock garden I have been cleaning up, and saw an oak at the top of the hill. Set apart, possibly a century old, with not a dead limb or tattered bug ridden leaf. A magnificent giant watching over the rolling lawns of
Vaughn's Gap Road. It threatened no house, no other tree. Safe for nests or for the lookout of the local Cooper's Hawk. The right tree in an intelligent place, and a lesson to us all.


Out on the prairie said...

Those oaks take longer to grow so often replaced with fast growers, who don't last forever.

Sam said...

This reminded me of our State Fish and Wildlife Agency planting a "Butterfly Garden" at one of their facilities and then the State Environmental agency ordering them to dig it up as it contained invasive species. How many ways can the Gov't spend money?