Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lessons Learned, Part 2

So now we return to the tale...there we were, living in a jungle.  Can you find a house in this picture?  There was so much shade being produced by the elm tree that the two spruces were starting to suffer.  The best growing conditions for blue spruce is full sun.  This isn't merely a recommendation, this is a must, unless you want thin, sickly spruce trees, like this one below:
While all of the trees were growing in the front yard, we were busy creating chaos in other parts of the yard (and raising two boys!) so time just sort of got away from us.  We realized we had an unattractive front yard, but there was the lack of time and our sentimental attachment to the trees.

Many people might laugh about that, but we do become attached to them.  Some of my guilt over planting them awkwardly was assuaged when I read a part of Adrian Bloom's book, Conifers for Your Garden, where he himself (and he is my idol) admitted to planting things too closely or not in the right spot over the years.  Mr. Bloom said if a tree has outlived its usefulness and really must go, we shouldn't look on it as a loss, but rather an opportunity to plant something new and exciting.  (ok, he was more eloquent, but the book is in our bedroom and Carl's asleep).

As so often happens when something needs to change, Mother Nature took over and the elm tree developed Dutch Elm disease.  We decided to take the elm down before it was completely overcome in the hope it wouldn't spread to the other three elms we had, but that turned out to be useless, as within the next year, they all succumbed.  Here we are getting ready to saw down the elm, note the upper left-hand branches are browning:
In this picture, Carl is getting ready to hook the cable up to the tractor so we can make certain the tree doesn't fall on the house.  I am always a big fan of hooking a cable to a tree before sawing them down, especially when a tree is this close to a building.  This way there are no unpleasant, dangerous surprises if a breeze should happen to spring up from the wrong direction right when the final cut is made, and we have had that happen.  I wasn't able to find any pictures of the actual felling of the tree, but rest assured, you will see some later of different trees.

I am not certain of the actual time-frame here, but after we took the elm down, we began to think about what we could do to open up the front garden again.  We had planted a Schwedler Maple when Joel was around 2 years old.


 The note on the back of the picture says: Planting Schwedler Maple, May 29, 1988  Joel, 30 months old, Daddy 30 years old.  $30 from Nursery. 
(Now can you see where the sentimental part comes in?  Sniff, sniff...seriously, this does get to me)

 Joel has always been our willing right-hand man with the landscaping projects, not that we kept him chained to the yard or anything.  (However, he may tell you something different...I don't know where he gets such silly ideas.)

The maple tree grew very well, and as you can see, so did Joel, now 16! and by 2001, it was apparent we'd have to do something with it. (The tree, I mean.)  Once again, bad judgment on the ultimate size of mature trees.
I had a friend who had a sister who had a new house (confused yet?) and wanted a nice tree for her yard, so we gave the tree away to her, though she had to pay to have it moved.  This was when we first met the owners of the tree spade service.  The tree was moved about ten miles from here, and last time I looked, it's still thriving, though the people who bought it have since moved.

Up, up and away!
When David came home from school, he volunteered to stand in the hole for this picture.  He is 12 yrs old in this picture and much taller than he looks!

After the maple was gone, some more time passed and we decided it was time to remove the blue spruce closest to the driveway.  Our hosta collection (illness) was going full bore and we needed the room to put more in, and since the tree was so spindly, out it went.

We started this project rather late at night, which is a bad habit of ours; we'll be strolling through the gardens, talking about something needing to be cut down and out come the chain saws.  I think the reason for this is due to the sentimental thing again, you have to strike while the iron is hot and before we think too much.  First we had to limb the tree up a bit higher:

The tractor on the right is our 574, my father's pride and joy, and mine too, hooked up to a cable to convince the tree to fall the right way.

  It's getting easier to see the house now, isn't it?  Stay tuned for Part 3!

1 comment:

LC said...

Karen... an interesting history of your property and I look forward to future installments. I agree that we don't allow enough space for plantings, but who wants to live with those big holes in the landscape while waiting for years as the plantings develop! I have to say that I agree with Dirr that blue spruce can be used incorrectly, but I don't find them a distraction in the landscape... I guess that's why I have so many in various shapes and sizes! I'm very concerned about tomorrow's low temps- many magnolias already in bloom and buds of later ones are showing a lot of color. I don't imagine 2" ofsnow is going to be good for the daffodil stems either! Larry