I had two large trees removed yesterday. It was a necessity, not a choice, and it was painful. In fact, it was more painful than the removal of our 60-foot Eucalyptus back in 2013 or the removal of one of our peppermint willows (Agonis flexuosa) in 2015, both of which were initiated in response to a neighbor's complaints about impairments to her view of the harbor. Thankfully, that neighbor moved in 2018 but nothing can stop Mother Nature when she decides a plant's time is up. Yesterday, we had both our mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) and the large tree-like toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) taken out. The impact to the garden seems greater than any of the major changes we've made before.
The mimosa has been featured and discussed here many times but, before I summarize what happened to it, let me share a couple of photos of it at its best.
|This photo was taken in June 2013, roughly two and a half years after we bought the house. We still had lots of lawn and even the snorkel spa inherited with the house (heated by burning wood) back then.
|This photo was taken in July 2017, the last time the tree looked good, at least from a distance. It was already showing signs of stress at this point when viewed close up.
The tree's decline was readily evident by 2018. Shot-hole borers had damaged major limbs, which didn't properly leaf out. After discussion with an arborist, we performed major surgery on the tree in an effort to extend its life. We gave it almost three more years but, this year when it came time for our annual tree service visit, we decided it was time to let it go.
|I took this photo on October 27th
|The tree had recently leafed out again along a couple of limbs, almost as if in protest to our plans to take it down
|The arborist had pointed out that the remaining trunks were starting to cave in, as shown on the left. The photo on the right shows where the trunk was cut before when we tried to save it.
It's a tree I've had a love-hate relationship with almost since we moved it. While it was beautiful when it was in full leaf and flower, it was bare much of the year. It also created a huge amount of litter and self-seeded with abandon. Even so, I couldn't bring myself to watch much of the removal process.
|I snapped this photo through the kitchen window as the last limb was coming down
The middle of the garden seems very empty to me and, although my husband is currently opposed to putting in another tree or even a large shrub in that spot, I don't personally feel the view that it's removal reveals is worth the feeling of exposure it creates. But that's a discussion for another day.
|This shot was taken this morning from the same angle as the one taken on October 27th
The toyon's case is different. Although like the mimosa it came with the garden, it's not a plant I gave much thought to until the middle of this year when I noticed that its leaves were turning red and what few berries it had were shriveled. I found one source that suggested that this could happen with native plants like Heteromeles arbutifolia but by August it was clear to me that the huge shrub was dead.
|In light of the toyon's rapid demise, it's likely that the cause was the pathogen that leads to the phenomenon known as "sudden oak death." Like native oaks, toyon is susceptible to disease due to exposure to this pathogen.
Like the mimosa, the toyon sat atop a fairly steep slope but in this case it was adjacent to the property line, looming above the driveway of our neighbors on the south side. There was no question that it needed to be removed but, as grinding the stump in that location was problematic for a number of reasons, I was apprehensive about opening up this particular view.
|After they toyon's removal, we have an unfavorable view of the facade of a house down the block, a variety of scruffy trees owned by another neighbor off a spur road, and the street than runs through our neighborhood
I'm thinking of ways to screen out the facade of the neighbor's house and those scruffy trees. I'll cover that in more detail at another time too.
In the good news category, the other trees we had trimmed look spiffy and the collateral damage associated with their annual haircuts was relatively minimal. We didn't have any of our peppermint willows trimmed this year, nor any of the smaller trees or the citrus trees.
|These two Arbutus 'Marina' occupy opposite ends of the front garden
|Two more Arbutus 'Marina' in the back garden were also thinned. The Arbutus rapidly develop dense foliage and, left unattended, they develop a sooty mold.
|Also getting trimmed were, left to right, a hedge of Prunus caroliniana, Magnolia grandiflora, and Pyrus calleryana
That's it for me this week. There's a LOT for me to do in the garden in the coming weeks (and months). Unfortunately, our temperatures are slated to rise again with yet another, hopefully less forceful, round of Santa Ana winds in the forecast even as fire crews are still working to fully contain the two wildfires that broke out in Orange County earlier this week. I'm looking forward to reliably cooler weather - and rain of course - but at present I'm not sure when we can expect either.
All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party