Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Goodbye, Tree

Hard to tell from the photo, but this is a big tree. A silver maple that was probably planted when our house was built in 1900. Two other silver maples along our road have been taken down recently(one by our asshole neighbor for no good reason) and another by an even further neighbor because theirs was rotting as well. One of the local families said that the trees had been planted on birthdays and special occasions, and the two recently taken down were planted for two elderly sisters in the Heisey Family when they were born in the early 1900s. They lived together in a little house up until about 10 years ago when they had to go into a home. I think both are passed away now. I don't know if there was a special occasion behind the planting of my tree.

It has done a superb job in it's life of shading the house from the hot summer sun and has (during our brief time here) been home to many birds and squirrels.

But the tree is dying. Although it fully leafed out this spring, a large portion of it's insides are rotting, including the roots on the street side. If it was anywhere else on the property, I would let it go. But since it is near the street and sort of close to the house, I'm worried that it could come down and hurt someone. Our road is dark and a car would never see it if it came down in a storm and was across the road. A tree man came yesterday to give us the final diagnosis (and cost of taking it down).

I'm a little shocked at how angry I am about losing this tree. At first I was determined to get a second opinion. There must be something we can do to save this tree. But I know there isn't. I try to visualize what our yard will look like now without this tree. It won't be the same. Yes it will be easier to pull out of the driveway without this tree in the way and no I will not miss the torrent of silver maple helicopters that come raining down just about the time I have mulch put down, making everything look messy. I will miss this tree terribly though. And the worst part is that even if I plant another tree in it's place I know that I will not live long enough to ever see a tree that big there again. I don't like being forced to confront my own mortality by a tree.


Anonymous Sandy said...

We have a row of old maples in our side yard. There were five when we moved here, only three now. It is sad, and I can understand how you feel. Plant a tree anyway, someone will appreciate it.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

That stinks. I'm mostly sad that you're going to lose the awesome shade-making ability of that tree. I know it takes forever, but you should still replant. Maybe not a silver maple, though. Something without helicopters. ;)

9:22 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

It's sad to see your tree in such bad shape, Meresy. We recently had to take down an Arizona Ash, for similar reasons. We would have been more upset if it were a surprise, but the tree was in decline when we bought this house in 2004. It was over 30 years old, really ancient for this type tree in Texas.

Your situation is so different...a one-hundred year old maple must have seemed as if it could go on forever.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

11:23 PM  
Blogger kris said...

Sorry about your tree. We live in a hundred year old house too - and since moving here 27 years ago, we've lost a huge basswood and an even larger oak - old age. We also have a very old maple - with its annoying helicopters and graceful beauty. Several years ago it was hit by lightning - and now we are holding our breath year to year hoping it will hang on. It's crown is getting thinner each year, and it will have to come down at some point. I joke about all the sun I'll have for roses when that happens - but truth is we'll all be in mourning. Do plant another tree - someday someone else will appreciate its age and enjoy its beauty and history as much as you do this one.

12:35 AM  
Blogger Kitt said...

Oh, it's hard to lose an old friend like that.

I have a big box elder that similarly shades my yard, but has reached the end of its life and is not going gracefully. I dreaded the thought of taking it down, but now I'm moving and someone else will have to. Poor tree.

1:41 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

It's tough to lose something that's such a presence.

I'm planning to plant some southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora), but know that I'll never live to see them in their glory. But when I think of where I want to plant them, I never imagine them as tiny plants - only as full-grown trees.

Some years ago on a genealogical field trip, my grandfather, my mother, and I were standing in the yard of my great-great-grandmother's house under a huge tree which looked as though it had been there forever. My grandfather said, "I remember that tree. It came up in my grandmother's flower garden and she just let it grow."

7:28 AM  
Blogger cyndy said...

Sorry to read about your maple.

Did your tree man talk about filling and topping? A tree man (also a friend of ours) has told us that they used to use cement to fill, but now they use urethane or polyurethane foams. Sometimes, filling and then topping the tree can rejuvenate growth (esp. with hardwoods or conifers)...then again --this can be costly...so you are probably better off saying goodbye, and hello to a sapling...hard to mark the end of eras....

8:42 AM  
Blogger meresy_g said...

I definitely put another tree there, and it will probably be another silver maple. Maybe I'll wait for a special occasion, like our anniversary in August. I have many, many seedlings to choose from thanks to the silver maples promiscuous tendencies. And someday when I'm dead and gone, maybe it will be satisfying to look down and watch some other gardener down on their hands and knees picking helicopters off their new mulch.

9:02 AM  
Blogger El said...

Put in more than one, M. And make sure you get that first stump ground out when they take it out, grinding it down a few inches below grade.

We're losing a tree here, too. Same story. It's in a row, though, so its loss won't be as huge as what you are facing. It's just going to be like a missing tooth in that long drive of maples. Sniff.

And what is this about all the mortality stuff with you lately? Gray hairs, and now this? You ain't even out of your thirties kiddo. (Get back to the SEX talk.)

11:57 AM  
Anonymous shannon said...

Hey Meredith - the broccli rabe is doing wonderful here, though it doesn't sell as well as I expected at market - people keep saying that it has small florets b/c they think broccolini and broccoli rabe are the same thing :) Anyhow, we like it, and it's doing well in lightly amended soil (winter pig pasture) under row covers. I've been harvesting it as soon as a floret appears and am hoping to get two harvests out of the one bed. Sorry about your tree!

5:56 PM  
Blogger woof nanny said...

There's a gardening magazine and radio show that is local to me, but they also have internet streaming, and a call-in question format. I recommend it highly.

On another note, I finally got around to seeing the movie you recommended, Grey Gardens. I found it so disturbing that I had to turn it off, but now I'm kicking myself for not knowing how it ended. What happened?

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Pennie said...

We have two huge silver maples in our front yard that I absolutely love. They're also home to all sorts of wildlife and provide so much shade to to front of the house....but they're also starting to show some rot and we're wondering when there day will come.

We had to take two trees down out back of our house (couldn't garden at all back there because it was way to shady). I cried the day they came down and apologized to both(plus kept small pieces of their wood as rememberance).

As much as it hurt to take those two trees down....I'll be an absolute mess when it comes to taking the one's down out front (which were also planted in the 1920's when the house was built).

Are you going to have a going away celebration to honor your beautiful old tree?!?!

1:33 PM  

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