Monday, May 4, 2009

trees near my home

tall oak in our alley 10-12 foot trunk diameter 
huge oak in the alley
SUV's and cars park under it in hot

recently planted red bud 

This is the time of year when all our trees come out and have an electric brilliance in shades of green and some reds. This week with 6 days of clouds and rain they seem especially fresh and delicate. I used to spend time doing Bonsai and learned a lot about trees and read some good books on them and their history. I think we all appreciate good tall strong healthy trees when we live near them. It is a shame how often they are neglected and even just mowed down for development. I can recall so many times when I was disturbed to see one tree or acres of trees dead or removed by men for new building projects. This area of the mid- Atlantic coast without humans like us would be covered in forest they say.  We are the only creature who remove trees besides Elephants who rearrange some parts of the jungle while breaking paths for transit which helps other animals and plants.
Last summer I recall the dry months caused many trees in my neighborhood to yellow and loose their leaves before fall weather ever got here. Trees that were stressed already from much heat and lack of rain for the past several years started to look like they might not survive. I was most upset to find that the huge linden tree that is about 8 feet in diameter that grows on the curb in front of our apartment building didn't get any leaves this year. I wonder how these great trees live anyway with only a 3 foot stretch of open ground between the street pavement and the sidewalks. If only those both were permeable surfaces to let the rain seep in to nourish the roots. It is a very sad thing to see even a butchered tree die when it is this big and old.
Last summer after one of those strong north Easter storms pasted through the area a arborist from the city came around and was doing an inventory and reports on the trees. I happened to be out side when he came by and had a talk with him. I expressed my confusion about those who plant enormous tree stock to grow up under electric wires in the city. They tell us power company customers not to plant tall trees under power lines yet the city department that manages trees thinks nothing of planting tall trees under wires. He says that has changed and that they are being very careful to replace trees that die  with smaller ornamental trees if they are under power lines. He asked if I would like to have a red bud here in front of our house. I said yes sure and watched as he almost marked the road to indicate that a tree be planted at the base of our stairs. I quickly asked if he would put it to the left of that spot so we could park there and unload groceries and laundry. He was very happy to move it a few feet to the left. He also described why some trees that die are very slow to be removed. Seems when a tree is grown up in power lines and on a busy street if it dies there are many things to coordinate to facilitate removal of the dead tree. This points to one situation with contractors that is more trouble than if it were done only by government workers. The government hires contractors that cut down dead trees and remove the debris. When a wire is over head of the tree it requires a crew of tree experts to remove it and a crew from the Power company in addition to a traffic team from police department to steer traffic clear of the work. One tree nearby on busy Michigan Ave. NE is in such a spot and it has been standing dead and leafless for at least 3 years now. It is marked for removal but with all that coordination I doubt it will be removed before it falls and cuts off the power to someone and disrupts traffic naturally. I hope this tree in front of my apartment doesn't take a long time to remove. I plan to report it to the arborist today I met last year.  It is very sad to see it go but the new red bud will grow and across the street the new lindens and sweet gum have lots of head room and they will soon grow tall and offer us a little shade in the early hours of the morning. 
There are two old oak trees in the area of which I am very fond. Since I moved here they stood out and seem like stately old residents predating all the development. One is very tall in the back yard of a building in our alley. Gnarly Oak is spreading in shape rather than tall and grows on the grounds of the elementary school.  In the summer I have noticed that SUVs, trucks and cars pull on the grass to park under that old tree. I know that root compression is one thing that will kill a tree slowly. I wish the city would fence off that area to protect the roots of the old gnarly oak. This tree really has a lot of character. 
Finally one of my most favorite ancient trees that is dying  is on private property belonging to the Catholic Archdiocese who recently remodeled a building to minister to the military. While they remodeled this 1960s building they cut down many trees and one or two were blown over by a storm but this one tulip poplar was a very handsome stately tree remained. I watched as tractors, trucks, black top pavers and concrete work  went on all around it sometimes vehicles rolled heavy equipment over the roots. It was further stressed by dry hot weather and root digging at the base of the tree during remodeling, today it has half died. I took some photos of the state is in now last weekend. I am sad because I thought the shape of this tree was very handsome. Soon it will be gone and the building will be fully visible. I think the tree was much prettier than this new institutional facade. I guess you could say I am a tree hugger but I don't know why everyone isn't just like me. We get great benefits from trees near our homes and in our communities. 

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