Tree Armegedon

Ash BlightIn the last couple of decades, our stately ash trees have been assaulted by a blight called Ash Yellows.

Sharing the forest with healthy maples and oaks, many ash stand leafless and bereft, the species weakened by the blight, with the added insult of a recent insect infestation.

Our town is blessed with magnificent trees lining our streets, providing a generous canopy of shade to protect us from the blistering summer sun. It seems they’re all under assault. Harsh storms have laid waste toElm many trees, and have had a significant impact on the look of our streets and byways.

This magnificent elm at the end of our street, probably planted a century ago, was laboriously cut down limb by limb and carted away. Its unique vase-shape makes it readily identifiable.

White PineWhen the destructive storm Sandy blew through last Fall, it carried salt inland for miles, burning the needles on white pine trees up and down the coastal towns of Connecticut. Trees that were miles from the shore, were saturated in salt water, then deccicated by the sunny days that followed, turning needles a rusty brown.  Most trees seemed to flush out with a new coat of needles this summer. In a few years, we’ll see what that extra effort might have cost them.

The loss of any tree species has a trickle down impact on the livelihood of butterflies and moths attracted to its branches and flowers, as well as wildlife dependent on them as a food source. We’re all part of a vast network, and a loss of a piece of the tapestry of life is felt in ways we don’t even understand yet.

The ash tree is now under attack from the Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle from another country that was first sited in the US in 2002. It’s damage has been recognized in 12 states. As it’s population thrives, the devastation spreads from county to county.

White Ash in Connecticut accounts for only about 3% of the trees in our forests, yet each species has its place, proportion and contribution to our amazing eco system.

ChestnutsHere are my infant chestnut trees.

When they were still attached to the chestnut seed, like an umbilical cord, we lived in fear that a tenacious chipmunk would abscond with the nut
severing the baby from its life source. Anytime the dogs weren’t patrolling, I hauled the pots inside. They spent the early summer thriving in different environments.

In July, the nut gradually worked its way to the surface of the soil where it shed itself, hollow, and soft. What a relief – they had reached their first milestone.

At present, they are longing to be set free from their pots. They belong out in the rich duff of the forest floor.  One is showing signs of nutrient deficiency. They’ve had their share of kelp and seaweed fertilizers, but this is not the right tonic for them.
I went to the nursery and scoured the fertilizer shelf, and came home with an elixir for acid loving plants like camellia, gardenia, and my little woodland loving chestnut. I gave it a generous dose, and hope it will green up.

I’m thinking ahead to their first winter and how I will protect them from the weight of snow on their slender branches. I think I will bed them down in the vegetable garden up against the fence and once the ground freezes, bundle them up in evergreen boughs.

Someone had the foresight to plant trees that took many decades to become noteworthy specimens. We are witnessing those grand old trees reaching the end of their lives.

Tree DownIt’s time to plant for the future.






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