Our staycation activities director is full of surprises. Before I was properly caffeinated, she had us donning coats and gloves to venture outside. I checked my phone and shuddered. My weather app reported a balmy 20 F and clear skies. Without a cloud in the sky, sunlight glistened, sparkled, and reflected off the 10-inch-deep snowdrifts. Snowblind, I squinted and fumbled for my sunglasses. Meanwhile, I attempted to step in the footsteps of the person in front of me. It didn’t work, and all my trouble only rewarded me with the unpleasant sensation of cold, wet snow snaking into my boots. Yuck.
The day’s excursion was an exploration of the backyard forest with an arborist. It was easy to see that the man loved trees. He gleefully pointed to Arborvitae, Norway Pine, Scotch Pine, White Pine, Crab Apple, Linden, Freeman Maple, Tree Lilac, Shrub Lilac, Dogwood, Blue Spruce, Oak, Locust, Eastern Red Bud, American Beech, and River Birch in the landscape. We traipsed after the little boy in the candy store as he pointed out candles on evergreens, debated the merits of planting one species versus another in our backyard micro-climate, and detailed the advantages of winter pruning on maples.
Unfortunately, he also identified evidence of a Cytospora Canker on the Blue Spruce. Instead of the canker girdling a lower branch, a manageable situation, the infestation has encircled the trunk about halfway up the 40-foot-tall tree. Dieback is already apparent at the tree’s apex. There are no treatment options for the once beautiful specimen, and the disease will undermine the tress’s structural integrity and symmetry. Given its proximity to a driveway, the best course of action is to remove the tree. I wanted to cry.
The ever-effervescent arborist noted the advantages of planting a different species in a better position to replace the Spruce. He also suggested a Bald Cypress as a focal point and windbreak and a planting Pussy Willow as a screen in another area. They say the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the next best time is today. I foresee a few new trees sprouting in my backyard sanctuary this spring.
Do you notice trees in the winter?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer