A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. – John Muir
Of all the business that needs doing in the yard, tree business is the most work. Urbanized trees require care and maintenance, like domesticated animals and children. Treated with care, they bloom. Ignore them and they wither. I’ve gone over this several times now, starting here, but By Owner had neglected things to the point where two nice fruit trees needed to be euthanized.
When we moved in, the Peach and Pear trees looked like burnt old witches, holding their scary tendrils up over the yard in menacing poses. I watered them anyway, hoping a little love might help them see things right again, but they were too far gone.
Here’s what was advertised in a picture from before we took stewardship:
Just look at that, it’s a Peach of a tree. And little Crabapple getting started right behind it. But then:
Scary dead Peach holding a creepy pose and scary dead Pear hiding in the bushes.
They had to be exorcised. The Pear was dead down to the roots and took an afternoon of digging, then came right out, 30-pound taproot ball and all. Peach was not going so easily. A few hours one weekend chopping it down to the stump, then digging down to find the big roots. Exhausted, I gave up and came back.
The next weekend, I used a hand-saw to get through all the big roots I could find but the damn thing still wouldn’t budge. Digging as far down directly below the stump as I could reach, I finally loosened the taproot going straight into the earth and freed it. This took much effort and frustration. There was swearing involved. Clio acted as my consult.
Impressionist Lady had curated a section of plastic weed-barrier around the Peach tree area. I dug up the entire section and re-shaped this to enclose more grass area as an aesthetic decision. More later on the use of the Rye and Fescue mix to reseed, which is providing mixed results.
In the internets, the tree I bought to replace Dead Pear is called Youngii (Young’s) Weeping Birch or Betula Pendula or sometimes Silver Birch. I have yet to find definitive information on this tree – it’s a mixed bag – but all sources agree it is a “smallish ornamental tree of the highest order,” so Huzzah! Here’s a poetically flattering description, re: “this fast-growing ornamental tree is pure poetry, from the rhythmic rise and fall of its limber branches to the way the diamond-shaped leaves flutter and twirl in the wind.”
And so, trees. Don’t forget lots and lots of mulch. Water at the base and don’t spray the trunk too much. Say nice things to them.