My garden is going to look a bit different than I planned when I said yes to The Garden Conservancy Open Day on July 7.
More than one tree has fallen in this terribly wet snow. Today we discovered the cryptomeria (I think it is Cryptomeria japonica) that has been living in the bed leading to the round garden for the last twenty years. When we first moved here, I fell in love with this Japanese cedar’s soft cloudy foliage—unlike so many other conifers. Cryptomerias are large trees, topping out at 80 feet, according to my A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants.
When I planted it I thought that it would only be around 10 feet tall.
My guess is I didn’t read my encyclopedia first. I planted the cryptomeria based on the information from the plant tag–now long departed. Plant tags, I have learned since, are notorious for describing a tree’s height in only ten years—without mentioning the ten year part—as if that is their full growth.
I once had it explained to me that the reason for such gross inaccuracies in labeling was that many people moved to a different home on average every seven years. Of course, that simply leaves the nightmare of wrong tree/wrong place to some other hapless homeowner. And that’s not the problem of the plant labeller; the practice does insure repeat nursery business with an endless succession of trees that will have to be removed and others replanted.
In reality, our cryptomeria has never had a chance to achieve its full possibility. It tipped over once before in a wet winter and my son Jacques and his friend Matt applied their Boy Scout knot tying to stand it back up and secure it to a nearby Douglas fir. The cryptomeria rerooted, but over the seasons, the action of the rope where it looped around the trunk neatly sawed off the top ten feet. However, the tree survived—I’ve read that cryptomerias are like yews—you can cut them into old wood and they will regenerate. Now the tree is down again, its rootball sticking three feet out of the sodden soil.
Time to call in the arborist, Nathaniel Sperry.
He basically did the same thing the Scouts had done—but securing the rope in such a way it wouldn’t saw the trunk—and we’ll figure out a permanent holding in the next few weeks. Then he went to work giving it a fine pruning. It’s much more open and weathered looking.
Nathaniel said cryptomerias need this kind of work (regularly—who knew? Who could afford?) to keep them from becoming top heavy. And because they grow so much bigger than the ten feet mentioned on the plant tag, an arborist is the one to do the job. Now I’m realizing that for a developed garden like mine, I should have been putting money aside through the years for Nathaniel’s services.
I say as much to Nathaniel, and he tells me that ideally, he would like to be consulted when trees are first planted—a lot of problems he sees could be avoided with advice on right tree/right place/right planting hole.
Good arborists are even better than good plant encyclopedias.# # # #