Friday, May 20, 2011

A Sap For A Sapling

Hey, you can now check out our new Saturday posting of Deb's Deco Tips and Barbara's Easy Recipes! And now to our regularly scheduled post...

Deb: The gardeners who clean up our garden for planting were here the other day and they commented that the huge sixty foot tree in our front yard should maybe come down. They noted that it had many holes in its trunk––who’s doesn’t?––and said we should have the city inspect it.
Deb's sapling all grown up
So the city came to inspect the tree and said that, although it was not dying, it was certainly on the decline. The guy gave me a list of trees, a very impressive list of 29 trees that they would put in for free to replace it. Many of them were beautiful trees that would enhance the front of our home. Curb appeal, doncha know!

You see, most of the big beautiful trees in this hood were planted in the 40’s when the hood was a babyhood. And our tree was one of many Norway maple trees planted that, although gorgeous, are soooooooooooooo invasive. We are plagued with tiny insipid little roots that come up and strangle any plant we plant that isn’t as hearty as Popeye. Ug ug ug ug ug ug ug. (And so you know, that wasn’t me disparaging said Norway maple. “Ug ug ug ug” for you young’uns was Popeye’s catch phrase.)

So the prospect of a flourishing garden with NO limitations had me all green and leafy. I looked over the city brochure and googled each and every tree narrowing my search, daydreaming of shouting TIMBER!

So I went out to inspect the tree, with visions of friendly flowering foliage gracing our frontage … and it happened.

DAMN my EYES it happened.

I pictured our tree circa 1946 as a wee sapling held up by wire and a stick. I envisioned the very first owners standing in front of it brandishing a “Sold” sign. I saw them thrill to its first bloom and roll around in its first autumn shedding. Then I saw me and the boy wrapping it in spider webs for our first Halloween in this home 13 years ago.

 And I was screwed.

So there she stands. And until we have reason to believe she will possibly crush us, I shan’t shout timber.

PS Here are pics of our Ornamental Japanese Apple just now in bloom:

Barbara: Oooh, thanks, Deb, you’ve just offered me a chance to “talk trees”! I love talking trees.

I have a weird maple on the city portion of my front yard that is so odd-looking they call it a Witch's Broom. You can’t tell from this photo––it only sprouts later in the summer––but it has masses of suckers up and down its trunk that we (and by “we”, I mean Phil) have to trim off every year for fear the branches will poke an eye out.
Witch's Broom Maple
When these suckers leaf out, they'll be 4-5ft long
I have two black walnut maples in my backyard that are so toxic, everything except hostas, impatiens and boxwoods die underneath it. But the trees are gorgeous. And, yes, we’ve even stopped begrudging them their walnut husks which the squirrels leave everywhere and which leave a dark ebony stain on all they touch. We even have a giggle or two in the fall when we find the husked walnuts in the most obtuse places (for a squirrel conditioned to burying treasure): balanced on a spoke of our chaise lounger wheel, at the tip top of our backyard heater, sitting neatly on a chair at the deck table.
Black Walnut––when these branches leaf out, they're like long lazy fans
But the piece de resistance is my copper beech tree. You heard me: a friggin copper beech. The most beautiful, majestic, wondrous tree EVER!!! It is maybe 400 years old and we get to adore its magnificence every day. Does it bug me sometimes? Yeah, sure, with its millions of leaf husks that swarm into the house all spring, its hard nut husks that make walking barefoot a hazard in late summer, and of course its relentless shade which prevents me from gardening vegetables or pretty blooming flowers.
Majestic Copper Beech
Copper Beech up close
Copper Beech trunk––like a huge elephant's leg
But that’s all just irrelevant whining. We love our trees. We love their quirks and idiosyncrasies. They are as changeable and frustrating, as sweet and wonderful, as mysterious and revealing as our dearest loved ones. 


  1. Happy Friday. Beautiful tree photos. We live in a condo complex with some version of cherry trees. In early spring they develope theses little pink blossoms that shower lightly on you in the breeze. Rather like a fairy tale. Then the cherries come. And my car get spattered in sticky sap. That is where the fairy tale ends.

  2. Btw finally updated my google id to my name rather than my Tsumicat gamer tag :)

  3. Deb and Barbara -

    This post is such a lovely note on which to start the weekend! OOOooo, y'all should come hang out with my best friend. She's a 4-H leader, and she recently did a tree/leaf/seed identification unit with some of the younger children.

    Old trees do wonderful things with my imagination. Stand me in front of a tree that has lived 300, 400, more! years, and all I can think about is all the history that tree has witnessed.

    There are 2 lakes very near me (Big Lake and Reelfoot Lake) that were created by the great New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812.

    When the water levels are low, the stumps of the cypress trees that were swamped 200 years ago peek through. I'm always fascinated.

    I have a soft spot for playing with helicopter seeds (maple seeds). LOL

    My son and I are both avid devotees of the Periodic Table of Videos from the University of Nottingham. We have relished the project since the very beginning (sodium).

    Those chemists and the video maker are just the sweetest people. Through a strange series of events (God?!), my son ended up being befriended by them from afar (they kindly encourage geeklings). Brady even emailed asking my son to guest on his blog one time! One year, my best friend gave him a periodic table poster for his birthday. Then, just a few weeks later, he got a Christmas gift in the mail from the chemists at U of Nottingham -- an autographed picture of the PTOV group. Both are proudly hung in his room:

    My son particularly adores Pete and Neil because they blow stuff up a lot and are fond of using thermite. My warmest fuzzies are for Martyn. Anyway, we love, love, love PTOV and heartily recommend them. But, back to relevancy to this post LOL, one of the sister projects to PTOV (they also have a great physics project called Sixty Symbols and a wonderful wordnerd series called Words of the World -- proving I'm not the only person who groks on etymology!) is a series about trees. Y'all might really like the tree stuff! Take a look! :)

  4. Well hey there Shawn! I love to find out people's real names. Yeah the sticky sap is a killer as are the little "helicopters" that fly off trees. Rigel what wonderful images. Is there anything NOT to love about old trees. They are the gatekeepers.

  5. OOoooo, Tsumicat, yes! Your comment came in while I was typing. Yes! You totally reminded me of a wonderful tree thingie! I love standing in the midst of a wind blown shower of cherry blossom petals - an annual something I loved about the Quad at the University of Alabama, coming down the steps from Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library walking toward Denny Chimes (Roll Tide! Tornado Recovery!).

    Same for Bradford pear trees, the beautiful flowery joy of which I discovered when I lived in NC! :)

  6. Oh, Deb! You'd get along with my friend Sarah! She anthropomorphizes old trees. For example, when she saw a picture of a wizened, twisted, old, gnarled oak tree in my camera, she asked, "Ooooo, where does he live?" :)

  7. I have a huge Chinese Elm in my front yard city side of the curb. Our city rarely trims so every year or so I have had it professionally trimmed. It is the most beautiful tree on my street. It branches out in three areas and other than when it drops it's leaves (millions of them) it is beautiful. Right around now it is dropping sap but in teeny, tiny little sticky marks all over my car and it looks like stained rain. The tree was planted for the 1936 Olympic games and was suppose to last 50 years and then drop dead. Many on my street have but my professionally trimmed tree is doing wonderfully. It's roots destroyed my plumbing last year and for the price of $13,000 to dig through the sidewalk and street instead of under tree it was worth it. The city of course owns the tree but not the roots. Go figure. Loved your tree stories today.

  8. They are very pretty trees. Love the pics.

    My Grandparents have a huge Cherry Blossom tree in front of their house. It's been there since they built there home over 40 Years ago. Even know I am not into pink the tree is still really very beautiful and an amazing shade tree.
    When I was little they would always put a swing under that tree and so I would sit in the front yard and just swing. That was so nice.

    Every years My Grandmother puts flowers around the trunk of the tree and makes it all pretty under there. That tree has been around longer than they have probably so if anyone tried to make them cut it down,Im sure they would put up a fight.

  9. Thanks for all the pretty stories and pics! I LOVE TREES!!!! (did I say that already?)

    Tsumicat/Shawn: love the double identity :)

  10. And our flowering Japanese Maple is in full bloom! Heaven! Pink blossoms. Heaven.

  11. Beautiful trees...all of them...and such perfectly gorgeous blossoms! Isn't it great when Spring arrives...

    Thanks for the photos!

  12. AAAAaaaahhh! That Ornamental Japanese Apple is gorgeous!!!

  13. Here are some pics from out at Big Lake, which was created by the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812, showing the old stumps of trees killed by the quakes and resultant lake and swamp and the living trees. Most of the historic evidence isn't visible right now because of the extreme flooding situation. I took these snapshots when the water level was low.

    Trees + History = wonderful for imagination and curiosity

    (P.S. Oh man, now I'm in the mood to go fishing. lol)

  14. One of my absolute favourite smells in the world is the scent of the wild wolf willow bushes in the spring. Things are late here in Saskatchewan, so I'm still waiting ... for that, and the scent that a certain poplar tree gives off, which I love as much as the wolf willow ... these smells, as I'm biking or walking down the gravel road, make me break out in song: Heaven... I'm in heaven ....

    Glad no one's around but me, the dogs, and the birds. Do you think they appreciate human singing as much as we enjoy theirs? I always wonder.

  15. Oh Kate I loved this. I hope they appreciate our singing I really do!


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