For the best

One side of a tall, yellow tipped Hinoki cypress grows green. Until a year ago, only a small fraction was yellow, with two variegated ‘Silver Cloud’ redbuds leaning far over to limit its sunlight. I am uncertain why the redbuds leaned quite so, but suppose this began as a reach for sunlight, with the angle increasing over decades with an imbalance between the hold of the roots and vigorous top growth, even as roots began to be pulled from the soil.

The lower of the two redbuds, and the most drastically leaning at the time, was removed a year ago. The trunk was cut close to the ground, and by midsummer multiple root suckers grew to waist high. This is not a grafted or budded tree, so the leaves are identically variegated (below) to the redbud I cherished for so many years. While no decision must be made for another year or two, I consider the possibility of reducing the number of suckers to grow on three trunks that could again be a substantial tree in another decade.

While the two redbuds leaned heavily upon the cypress, they barely touched each other, so it is further puzzling why the upper ‘Silver Cloud’ tilted more after its neighbor’s removal. The necessity to also remove the second tree soon became apparent, and the recent heavy, clinging snow laid its trunk to the ground. Beyond leaning into the cypress, branches also weighed heavily upon the small greenhouse, so there seemed no choice but to cut this redbud out, and to do this before the greenhouse could be damaged.

Unfortunately, January has not been blessed by pleasant weather for working outdoors, but at least I got to this chore before the persistent snow in the shaded rear garden turned to ice. The redbud has now been cut to the ground, with logs and debris stashed away.

I am somewhat surprised, and I think even delighted by the space the redbud’s removal has created. A small red flowered Kousa dogwood was planted in autumn, assuming the removal was imminent, and behind this redbud are tall, deciduous orange and yellow flowered azaleas. I think this combination will be marvelous, and here I believe I will be less inclined to encourage sucker growth of this second redbud. But, there are several years before a decision will be required.

There is no ground space to be filled. Here, is a hodgepodge of long established clumps of toad lily, red hot pokers, verbena seedlings, hardy orchids and a small wintersweet that should now have sufficient sunlight to grow, though the area will remain shaded from the afternoon sun. Near the greenhouse I sense the need for a tall narrow tree, and here is an ideal spot for the purple leafed, columnar ‘Red Obelisk’ beech I considered for the lower garden. This should be a splendid contrast to the cypress, that I now expect to have yellow tips on all sides.

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