Alive and well

I’m alive and well, mostly unscathed after removing the very tall Blue Atlas cedar that declined in health over several very damp recent years. A couple scrapes were inevitable, and of course the cutting was done while my wife was at work. If I am to be crushed beneath a tree that falls in the wrong direction, at least I wouldn’t have to hear her “I told you so”.

Certainly, there is danger involved when chainsaws and ladders intersect, and this is an area where I have little expertise, but an eagerness to save the expense of paying properly trained people to do the work. I was more concerned by potential damage to nearby plantings than for my own safety, and again my luck held. An unruly blue mist shrub (Caropteris) was crushed, but it was due for a severe pruning anyway.

I hope not to gain further experience with removals of large trees in the garden, but in thirty-one years there will be occasional problems. Last year, a large Alaskan cedar that became too shaded was taken down. It was dropped precisely as planned, also with no more than a few scratches, and I feared I could not be so lucky again.

‘Yellowbird’ is a brighter yellow than the pale ‘Elizabeth’, above. While yellow flowers are common in spring, yellow magnolias are not.

A ‘Yellowbird’ magnolia was planted in the cedar’s place. Not in the exact spot since the tree trunk and roots were left to rot, but a few feet away. The magnolia is a much more appropriately sized tree for this space, and with a single trunk and upright branching instead of the wide, low branching of the Blue Atlas, there’s a bit of space for planting that I’ll ruminate over this winter. I was disappointed by the loss of the cedar, but I look forward to the first yellow flowers of the magnolia.

This mutation of the yellow leafed ‘Rising Sun’ redbud was discovered amongst hundreds of yellow leafed redbuds, though I didn’t have to look too hard. It was right on the end of a row.

The ‘Rising Sun’ redbud (above) with mutated variegation was delivered along with the magnolia. I’ve known the North Carolina grower who supplied the tree since he was a kid riding a minibike through his dad’s fields of hemlocks, and when the tree arrived it was clear he was taking no chances with the redbud’s survival. The burlapped rootball was dug several inches larger all around, adding a hundred pounds or more, so the hole I’d prepared was considerably too small. The fellows delivering the tree set it at the edge of the hole, but after I dug it wider I had a heck of a time rolling the tree two feet up the hill. But, it’s done, and looking good, though there won’t be a leaf on it for months.

Planting the redbud required more effort than expected, and while I feared the worst, removing the Blue Atlas cedar was quick and mostly uneventful. The garden is rarely this much work, but I am certain the new plantings will be rich rewards.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    As an arborist, the thought of a non-arborist with a chain saw on a ladder makes me cringe!

    1. Dave says:

      And it should. I hope I’m aware not to push the limits.

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