Our Brown, Damaged Chum

February 18th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Scattering rose petals around the base of the storm abused dogwood in the front yard will surely do nothing for the tree’s health. Yet, we are in low-level mourning.

On the first heavy snow in our series of blizzards and nor’easters, this one lost all substantial limbs on one side overnight. By the time I went out to look for newspapers never delivered due to the weather, and to shake the icy and snow off, two limbs were separated and a third twisted like a kid does to a Popsicle stick.

In a silly flair, we act a little like Andy Goldsworthy. Inspired by his documentary Rivers and Tides, certainly like thousands of others, we scatter flowers, stack rocks and otherwise make small naturalistic and temporary art. In this case, it is one way of feeling a little better about the damaged dogwood.

dogwood4 The sad front dogwood half destroyed overnight in the first heavy snow.
After two limbs cut, it still needs the third on the same side removed. That one is open and twisted. dogwood3
dogwood2 In a nod to Andy Goldsworthy, yellow rose petals offer scant solice.

Oddly, the much older, taller dogwood in the back had the same weight but lost no limbs. They have the same soil acidity and other conditions as well as experienced the same storms. The limbs on the larger one are in general bout the same diameter as well. We assume that the younger, smaller one is not as healthy and may benefit from weep-line fertilizer.

As I come to terms with the negatively transformed tree, I do switch to the pruning I learned in my master-gardener classes. Unfortunately, there is no alternative in an effort to keep the tree than removing nearly all limbs on its south side.

Bent4There will be something reminiscent of the thousands year old bristle pines or a bonsai that came in the classic way from a crypt roof.

The trees tortured by winds (as here on moors by the English Channel) have their own ghastly elegance. I have scant hopes that this will display as well.

I confess that it is animistic of me, feeling for an injured tree. Many other gardeners I have known are eager to rip out the injured, for the opportunity to bring in a newer, prettier specimen. That seems like someone trading in spouses to me.

We’ll give our brown and green-to-be flowering friend what attention we can. Perhaps it will have the beauty of asymmetry.

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