This deciduous street tree is one of the last to get its buds in the spring and the last to drop its leaves in the fall. There are yellow pods it drops in the late spring, making a festive, fuzzy mess for a couple of weeks. This tree is massive, an...
This deciduous street tree is one of the last to get its buds in the spring and the last to drop its leaves in the fall. There are yellow pods it drops in the late spring, making a festive, fuzzy mess for a couple of weeks. This tree is massive, and it's a beacon as soon as I turn down the street from way up at Hawthorne, as I can see it a quarter mile away and know I'm almost home. It has thrown up the sidewalk (which we've replaced and made smoother) and also thrown up the street (which hopefully the city will fix) which creates a stagnant, muddy pond at its base all winter long. I love this tree, yet it also scares me as large branches drop off in the windy months. Can you have a love/hate relationship with a tree?
Tree 118 in the Richmond Neighborhood is a 95-foot Douglas fir with roots in the backyard of a house on SE Clinton but with long lower limbs that shade our backyard as well as our neighbors. Over the years the tree has had an important role in the...
Tree 118 in the Richmond Neighborhood is a 95-foot Douglas fir with roots in the backyard of a house on SE Clinton but with long lower limbs that shade our backyard as well as our neighbors. Over the years the tree has had an important role in the ecology of the area around it. Crows and squirrels have shared the tree and raised families in its upper limbs, raccoons have found shelter, and generations of finches, chickadees, nuthatches, bushtits, and woodpeckers have used it as a staging ground for the bird feeders my wife has in our backyard.
In the next aerial photograph of the Richmond Neighborhood, you will not see Tree 118; it was cut down in June 2017, victim of being the right tree but in the wrong place. Doug firs are “messy” trees; in windstorms they drop needles and branches, an evolutionary strategy for reducing the wind’s force during winter storms. Our neighbors had significant damage from large limbs falling onto to a garage turned into an art studio. Many times I’ve stood, looking up to the top of the tree, realizing that if the treetop were to break some night during a heavy windstorm and fall on our house, I could die in my bed. Our neighbors had the tree pruned several times, with arborists taking off large branches at various places along the trunk, perhaps akin to pruning the interior of a small tree to improve air flow. Tree 118 created other problems as well; its roots were pushing on the foundation of neighbors’ house, causing water damage in the basement. Right tree, wrong place.
The removal of the Doug fir impacted the ecology of our backyard, changing areas that had been shade to full sun. The first plants to go were the hostas whose leaves showed sunscald within a week; they found new homes with friends who have shaded yards. Next to go were the fuchsias. Some smaller plants were potted and move to a shaded corner of the yard; others, like the hostas, were sent to new homes. Birds were absent from the yard. There was a big change in temperature as well. The 10 to 15 degree drop from the sunny side yard to the shade under the fir disappeared and with it went the pleasure of sitting on our patio under the tree over a glass of wine with friends, enjoying one-another’s company or perhaps rewriting the axioms of the universe. Tree 118 was an integral part of that experience and without Tree 118 the experience is not the same. The shade is not the same and the air is not as cool, even under a large patio umbrella. The squirrels are not racing along the top of the fence, leaping over to Tree 118’s trunk and using it as an escalator to their nests, the birds are not there in the limbs deciding which of the feeders to visit. There is a sense of loss; a good friend is no longer with us.
A week or so after Tree 118 was cut down, while I was watering out front, the neighbor walked by and stopped to chat. We both looked toward the spot where Tree 118 had been. She started to talk about the angst she and her husband had gone through in making the decision to have the tree removed, and as she spoke, tears began to well-up in her eyes and her voice began to break. “I’m sorry, I need to go”, she said and walked away. It was clear that our neighbors had as deep a connection to Tree 118 as we did; it was just a right tree in the wrong place.
..lived in this house, shaded by this tree.blue spruce, for 30+ yrs..one day about 15+ yrs. ago a guy came by told me it was planted in the 1930's to commemorate his birth..loved this tree dearly ..after my landlord passed, house was sold to someone....
..lived in this house, shaded by this tree.blue spruce, for 30+ yrs..one day about 15+ yrs. ago a guy came by told me it was planted in the 1930's to commemorate his birth..loved this tree dearly ..after my landlord passed, house was sold to someone..urged him to take good care of it and gave him info on good arborists..he hired cheapos and left them unattended..they butchered it..still there but all limbed out..oughta be a law..