Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Triumphs and Tragedies

It's been a long while since I've written a T&T post but it seemed like it was time after this past weekend.  There's been a myriad of good and bad now that I've gotten out and about in the yard.  Let's start with some triumphs shall we?

The sun was out this past weekend, and while there's still a bit of snow in places, it was a beautiful day for a walk in the woods.

This wooded stretch was snowy but it's the last snow we'll see this year
Although the golf courses aren't open yet there's very little snow left on our property creating a perfect opportunity to try out some new golf clubs.


These little flashes of green don't look like much now but they're a sign of things to come.


Those are daffodil shoots.  I planted dozens (I meant to write down how many but of course, forgot..) of a variety called Golden Echo last fall.  

Also appearing are the shoots of columbine.  


I've had a sudden strong urge to start clearing out flower beds and getting ready for the new season.  

Unfortunately garden chores got sidetracked quite quickly as there are other spring chores to attend to.

A splitter is absolutely necessary when you've got 8 cords of wood to get through
Splitting firewood isn't exactly a tragedy, but when it keeps me out of the garden I consider it a negative.  Unfortunately, if we want a warm house in winter it's imperative that wood gets split and stacked in spring so it has the summer to dry.  

Which brought us directly to another tragedy.  One of our maple trees has been in decline since we moved in.  Back in 2010 it looked like this.


Not quite alive but not yet dead.  Every year it looks worse and this year we found many broken branches scattered at the base.  It was time to take it down.


I hate to remove any trees but you can see on the top left of the tree how there is a dead branch hanging.  It was becoming hazardous to leave this tree standing with branches constantly falling.  The good news is we added substantially to our firewood pile with the wood we got from this tree.

Another unfortunate discovery was one of our newer trees.  I planted a native witch hazel in 2010 and it's been growing beautifully ever since.


Well until now that is.  It's located near the roadside and I'm guessing a load of snow from the plow might have hit it this year.  The main trunk now looks like the photo above.  My thought is that trying to fix it simply won't do any good.  A repaired trunk will always be weak so maybe it's better to just prune off one side.  Does anyone have any better ideas?


38 comments:

  1. I do consider lost trees a tragedy, but you have to deal with that. My witch hazel split in two in 2011. You can carefully trim off one of the splits, and then see what happens. Mine started sending up vertical shoots from the wounded middle, and is starting to regain an upright form where the lost structure was. Yours may too.

    Another possibility is to force the split back together and put a steel bolt through. I did that with a Japanese maple and it has held and worked beautifully, no weakness at the repaired site at all.

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    1. Laurrie, when I saw the damage I immediately thought of your japanese maple. This is a pretty small shrub though. You can't really tell but the trunk is really only about the size of my finger so bolts may be overkill. I'm really tempted to just trim off of side that seems a bit more unstable. Glad to hear that yours sent up shoots, perhaps I can wish for that.

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  2. it is a shame when we loose a tree but if it is loosing branches it could be very dangerous, what a shame about your witch hazel, I hope you find a solution and it will be alright, I know exactly what you mean about work that keeps you from doing what you want to be doing in the garden, lovely to see the shoots and new signs of life, Frances

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    1. the real threat was branches that were breaking and getting hung up in the tree. They were just dangling there waiting to fall. It really was no longer safe to be in the vicinity of that tree anymore.

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  3. hi, marguerite .. i'm thinking that witch hazels are pretty resilient trees .. if it is still quite young, and small, i think it might be best to cut it below the break, then, if necessary maybe bring the remaining branch to the left (which i can't really see how long it is) in a bit for some kind of balance .. i wouldn't get rid of it until i gave it a chance
    i've taken quite large branches of much older witch hazels with very positive results .. .. good luck ..

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    1. thanks Jane, I'm really reluctant to cut too much as this really is a small shrub yet. Only 3 or 4 feet tall and wide so cutting so much off, well it's a lot of growth. But you're right, it's probably quite able to handle some drastic pruning at this stage yet. I need to go out and take another good look before I make a final decision.

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  4. forgot to say good on you for using the wood splitter .. 8 cords is a lot of wood .. it's looking very beautifull where you are .. i almost hate to tell you that here my daffs are almost done .. just a different part of the world ..

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    1. absolutely couldn't do it without a splitter. as it was it took 2 full afternoons with both of us working to get it all done. 8 cords really is a lot, when we were on Bowen we would only use 3 or 4 at most. but this house is much larger and the weather just so much colder.

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  5. I love the wood splitters..my BIL has one, they make fast work of a hard job.

    Poor tree.

    Jen

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    1. LOVE wood splitters. Can't even imagine trying to split this all by hand.

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  6. I love your flashes of green. I can't wait. As soon as the snow disappears around here we're going to be splitting firewood as well.

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    1. firewood is that never ending chore isn't it? as soon as we're done burning one lot we're on to cutting the next.

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  7. So sorry about your trees! It's especially hard to use a young, promising plant. Drat those snowplows.

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    1. you know I thought I had this plant far enough back from the road that snowplows wouldn't be an issue but it's amazing how far they can throw that stuff!

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  8. Wow that is one helluva pile of logs to be split - that certainly will keep you busy in your spare moments. Shame about your tree - I always think it changes the view when a tree goes making you more aware of where it was. We are having a little warmer weather here which should help things along a little I'm tired of seeing brown earth.

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    1. It's shocking how much wood we use. I'm always surprised how fast it goes, especially considering all the work required to cut and split it. Things are turning to look a wee bit green here and it's so nice. like you i'm dead tired of brown.

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  9. Sorry to hear about your maple tree, it's never a nice thing to have to remove a tree you have a relationship with - but there is always a positive side to that too, you can plant something new there :-)

    Good to hear your spring is slowly arriving, it is finally happening here in Britain too it seems!

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    1. and plant I will! :)) I have plans for a number of trees to be planted in the area once the maple is gone. It's just hard to see a mature tree go, I will never see the trees I plant grow up to be that size.

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  10. Sad to see a maple go, but our whole street of 90-100 foot Norway Maples has been in serious decline for years. Each year another falls in a wind storm. Two years ago it was the one next door and it crushed the neighbors car and almost took out my lilac trees. It did smash the carpet rose which grew back. You are very smart on removing it.

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    1. that was my worry Donna. That tree is quite close to our neighbours house and I would hate to see it fall and do damage there.

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  11. My dad used to use a wood splitter when I was younger and we used to gather firewood for the winter!

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    1. Funny, I can hardly remember a house where I haven't had to gather firewood :)

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  12. Sorry to see that witch hazel damage. But, oh! New little green shoots! How wonderful! I have a very large tree that is in decline, too. My husband wants to go ahead and cut it down before it does some damage. I know that's the thing to do, but then I would have to move all the shade plants underneath it, and I'm just not looking forward to doing that. I told him to wait another year! Hope that's not a bad decision!

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    1. that's a tough call. having to move a whole garden to take down a tree and then knowing those plants all need a shade spot. I would probably drag my heels a bit too on that one.

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  13. Marguerite girl .. I had a few hours in the garden on the 9th and even though it nearly did me in , it was terrific to see some green shoots of all the daffs I planted out front plus a few more treats !
    Sorry for that beautiful Maple.
    Your Witch Hazel .. don't give up on it yet .. do a clean slanted cut(so water will run off of it) below the damage and see what happens .. I can be a demonic pruner at times and it amazes me how plants/shrubs/trees will spring back from a over the top pruning !
    We are in a winter storm warning .. freezing rain and snow to hit from a large mass .. hope it doesn't shock the poor babies I managed to uncover.
    This is one weird Spring ?
    Joy : )

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    1. Joy, I've been worrying too about uncovering perennials. This weather is crazy, they're saying ANOTHER storm headed our way?!?! make it stop already!

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  14. It must be a ton of work to cut wood for the winter, but I would imagine you must save a bundle in gas or oil. (I was talking with my Mom the other night and was surprised to hear how expensive their oil bill was for heat this winter.) It is too bad about the maple and the witch hazel. Hopefully you can salvage the witch hazel with pruning.

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    1. Jennifer, the cost of oil here is astounding. When we bought the house the first thing we did was put a wood boiler in. We couldn't afford the cost of oil. It's a lot of work but we spend about a third of what it would have been otherwise.

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  15. I have no experience in split tree trunks but I've heard of people actually bolting them back together. You're wise to cut down the big maple before it falls. Hooray for daffodil shoots! Spring can't be far behind. :o)

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    1. Tammy, I've seen that too (Laurrie of My Weeds Are Very Sorry did this exact thing) but this is such a small tree at this point I think a bolt is overkill. Some inventive pruning is the answer I think.

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  16. Hello: So sorry about the maple tree..my step-son bought us a few sugar maples from McPhails, so hope they survived the winter..I purchased two witch hazels from there too can't wait to see how they did..prune away and you might be surprised..we just had an ice storm, then ice pellets so yard is all white again..so your lovely green shoots are ahead of us here..happy gardening when time allows...all the best Lannie

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    1. Lannie, I was just on MacPhail's site today planning my upcoming purchases :) that place is so wonderful. I'm sure your trees will be just fine, I just had the rotten luck of a snowplow throwing dirt and snow much farther than I had anticipated.

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  17. I agree, wood splitters are necessary equipment, along with chainsaws, and generators...at least around here! The power ones are soooo much better than swinging an axe too ;) I'm sorry about your Maple. We have a native Big Leaf maple that looking similarly unhappy, and I expect we'll have to bring that one down in a year or two. I hope you can salvage your Witch Hazel. If you trim below the split, will it just shrub out? I don't have any experience with Witch Hazels, although I do love them (I expect my deer would too!).

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    1. I forgot to mention the new chainsaw! LOL, Jody has never been more excited to do firewood. the right equipment is an absolute must. I don't know about witch hazels in general but this is a pretty young shrub so I have a good feeling any pruning that's done won't harm it too much.

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  18. So sad to lose a mature tree, but hey, at least you can plant a new one to take its place, always a good thing. As to the witch hazel, I would be amazed if it didn't respond well to being pruned below the damage - on the slant, as previously said. Feed it and mulch it and it should bounce back nicely. Wonderful to see so many signs of new growth.

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    1. Good to hear another vote for pruning. I feel pretty good about doing this now. That witch hazel is so happy in its location and growing well otherwise, hopefully it will recover without too much trouble.

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  19. When I saw your split witch hazel I had to see what comments you received. Hope the suggestions work. What a shame.
    We have some trees that are on the decline, it is sad to watch over the years -- hoping that they will recover.

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    1. Janet, I ended up trimming one side of the split. The other side was relatively stable so I've left it as is to see how it fairs. Worst case scenario I'll cut the whole top back at a later date.

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