Rather than engage in a battle arbitrated by our city's "view conservation commission," my husband and I decided to remove one tree and to thin and reduce the crowns of 9 others in a good faith effort to address the neighbor's objections. Even after receiving notice of our intent, she sought to insert herself into details of the decision process. After I declined her request to tour the property and discuss each tree in turn, she delivered photos, including at least one taken with a telephoto lens, showing the "offending foliage" circled with a yellow highlighter. I haven't asked her opinion of the completed work and I don't intend to. If she's dissatisfied, then we'll let the city commission address the matter - at her expense.
The removal of the Agonis broke my heart a little. It left a large empty spot in the middle of my backyard border.
|Photos snapped from inside the house as the tree service crew brought down the Agonis and ground the stump to dust|
|The photo on the left shows the 2 Agonis trees in the backyard border before the one in the foreground came down; the photo on the right shows the remaining tree, with its crown reduced and its foliage laced out|
I dug up a large number of plants in advance to clear room for the tree crew to work. After the work was done, my husband and I swept up the sawdust left behind when the tree's stump was ground down, then dug in supplemental topsoil, raising the soil level a bit to improve drainage. I've replanted some things but I'm taking this opportunity to reconfigure the border before putting all the plants I removed back. I expect it'll take me another week or so to finish that up.
|Area cleared in preparation for the tree service crew|
|Area as it looks now, cleaned up and partially replanted|
What to do with the blank space left by the tree's removal is my current conundrum. It's a very long border and I think it needs something taller than 3 or 4 feet to give the area between the 2 remaining trees, an Albizia julibrissin on the left and the remaining Agonis flexuosa on the right, definition. To avoid future conflict with the complaining neighbor, I'd like to keep the height to a maximum of 12 feet as that's our rough estimate of the height of our roofline (although my husband proposed keeping it lower still). In addition, I'd like to leave the remaining Agapanthus where they are so I want something that will coexist peacefully with those plants. Finally, as our drought conditions continue to represent a serious problem, anything I put in should be relatively drought tolerant.
I've been driving myself crazy trying to identify the right focal point. Some of the options I'm seriously considering include:
- Drimys lanceolata - it has attractive red stems and produces flowers and berries but it's slow-growing and needs regular water
- Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' - it's a beautiful drought-tolerant plant with both winter and summer interest and well under my height limit but I already have 2
- Metrosideros collinia 'Springfire' - it's drought tolerant and has beautiful orange-red flowers that attract birds and butterflies but, if not kept pruned, can grow well above my 12 foot limit and it appears to have a dense canopy
- Persimmon - although these trees are deciduous, I love their leaves and beautiful orange fruit but can I find a dwarf variety and will it attract more raccoons to my back border?
- Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Ivory Sheen' - it's attractive and has a naturally lacy appearance but it seems more of a background plant than a focal point
|Clockwise from top left: Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' with its summer foliage; nursery containers of Metrosideros 'Springfire'; containers of Drimys lanceolata; and a Pittosporum 'Ivory Sheen'|
Do you have any thoughts or additional suggestions to offer? I hope to add more Grevillea and other mid-sized plants to the border as well but I'd like to make a decision on the taller focal point first.
All material © 2012-2015 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party