Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Wednesday Vignette: Watching and Waiting

I've been on leaf watch for a couple of months now, anxiously waiting for signs that what remains of our large mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) still has the will to live after being cut back by half in December.

Back in 2016, the tree looked like this by the end of April:

Fully leafed out


And in early May 2017, it looked like this:

A lighter leaf canopy but well-covered


Last year, the first leaves didn't appear until well into June and half the tree (the part that was cut away in December) never leafed out at all.  Right now, the tree looks like this:



With all the rain we had this winter, I'd hoped to see leaves appear early this Spring but then it's also been cooler than usual here, with only a few really warm days of 80F or higher.  This morning, I noted the first signs that maybe the tree will survive its battle with drought, shot-hole borers, and the loss of half its trunk and branches last December.

The first leaves: I could swear they weren't there yesterday

All are on the lower branches but, when I looked up and squinted, I saw a few more touches of green higher in the canopy


We'll have to see if the warmer temperatures expected in the coming days speed things up.  It'd be nice to hang on to the tree a few more years yet.  For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

26 comments:

  1. Oh - that shot hole borer is attacking trees in Johannesburg (the urban forest) and has reached Cape Town. Daunting.
    Your tree looks as if it is cautiously bouncing back. Hope so!

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    1. I've heard that drought makes trees vulnerable to the shot-hole borer and we've both had plenty of problems with that!

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  2. Oh Kris, I hope your mimosa lives and thrives. We had those when I lived in Maryland. They were always the last tree to leaf out and I always held my breath waiting. They seemed to be short lived there and would die without warning. I loved them and they don't grown here in Ohio because our winters are too cold. I actually have seen one or two, but that is all. I pray yours is well and you will enjoy it for years to come. They are such beautiful and special trees!

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    1. I've been told these are generally short-lived trees. Mine is an exceptionally messy specimen but I'd like to hold onto it even so as it'd be difficult to impossible to remove the stump without destabilizing the slope it sits atop of, which in turn would impact my ability to plant a replacement tree in the same spot.

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  3. "Comrades, we're going to have fewer but better Albizia branches!"

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    1. "And better shot-hole borer resistant branches!"

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  4. I hope the tree makes it because it makes a big statement in your landscape. We just took down a tree that had been failing for a number of years with reduced leaf coverage. Unfortunately I think it has been a slow decline for 20 years. I was listening to a podcast about Ash die back disease in the UK and when they cut down an 8o year old tree they could see from the tree rings that it started to decide about 30 years ago as the tree rings got closer together showing poor growth. I looked at our tree but the rings were indistinct - maybe because David used a hand saw to get the canopy off but I will check again when he gets the trunk down with a chain saw.

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    1. I hope you can ferret out the cause of your tree's demise so you can prevent further losses, Jenny. Losing a tree is always sad.

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  5. Hopeful signs! Fingers crossed. :)

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  6. Oohhhh, looks as though it must may make it! Here's hoping!

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    1. You can bet that I'll be continuing to scrutinize the tree's canopy regularly for further signs of recovery, Libby.

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  7. It's such a shame when we lose an older tree, especially one as lovely as yours. We are going to be removing an large ash next month. It's been penetrated by the emerald ash borer and last year about 1/3 of the branches did not leaf out. I expect that this year it will be over 50% dead - so sad. I have my fingers crossed for you!

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    1. Nasty bugs are everywhere it seems, Margaret. What makes the loss of a tree particularly difficult here is that my community's "view conservation" ordinance raises issues when it comes to replacing a large tree.

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  8. Oh, that is a good sign. I, too, hope you can hang on to the tree for a while. I like the shape of it. The foliage is so interesting as it unfurls!

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    1. I've only vague ideas as to what we'll do if/when we lose the tree. It has a real presence in our back garden and replacing it poses all sorts of difficulties.

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  9. Looks like your tree is coming back from the brink of exhaustion! Wonderful news - I hope it recovers beautifully!

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  10. Nothing worse than losing a tree. This one sitting out in your landscape sure makes a nice statement. Hopefully it will recover and thrive with all the winter rains to pump it up. That last photo makes it look like some of the limbs are growing out of a rock.

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    1. Last year, Evan, The Practical Plant Geek, identified those small branches as adventitious growth that in themselves might signify a tree in decline. My arborist concurred that that was a possibility. That's why I continue to look anxiously up into the canopy for more green leaves.

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  11. Very exciting to see these signs of life in your Mimosa!

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  12. Losing a tree is so hard. It changes how the entire garden feels, not to mention the amount of sun. Fingers crossed you don't loss yours yet.

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    1. While this isn't my favorite tree species by any means, the tree's loss would be a huge change, and one I don't have any clear ideas how I'll cope with. Thanks for the crossed fingers, Rebecca.

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  13. They are fast growing, short-lived trees. Of course with the shot-hole borer around even long-lived trees could be short-lived trees. :(

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