death & rebirth

We watch nature shows, so I’m well aware of the struggle for survival that goes on out there.

Pinus densiflora Oculus Draconis ‘Dragon’s Eye’

Once my pride and joy, this is all that’s left of Pinus densiflora oculus draconis ‘Dragon’s Eye’. It had been in place since ’06, but ailing and losing its variegation for a couple of years. Finally pronounced “just plain dead”, no digging was required to remove the 6′ carcass. Do you see any root? No, the poor thing had been gnawed clean off just below soil level. The culprits? Gophers. Every garden chat I have engaged in lately has devolved into plots to kill gophers. Know any hit men for hire? They would have an eager clientelle in our neighborhood.

leaning fig tree

Another case in point: a fig tree that has been limping along for years. We looked out one day to see it tilting at 90º. This time some digging revealed damage to some roots and a tunnel system. R dug a nice big hole, lined it with rocks and replanted the tree with amended soil and stakes to hold it upright.

new fig leaf

The tree is saying “Thanks” by putting out a few fresh leaves, so maybe Dr R has saved its life. Only time will tell.

Oxydendrum arboreum

Another cherished tree, Oxydendrum arboreum held special significance because it was a memorial to a beloved cat. It was doing well, then, with no warning at all, it up and died. Soon, lo and behold: new growth began to appear at the base. The deer noticed this right away and found it quite tasty. Up went a chicken wire barrier to foil the little deers.

Oxydendrum new growth

The new shoots shot right up, to the delight of the feasting fawns. R added another layer of chicken wire and I went out there with a spray bottle filled with a disgusting tasting (and smelling) mixture. I’m afraid our landscape is peppered with these makeshift eyesores. There is chicken wire caging around the trunks of the quaking aspen and birches to protect them from girdling by the sapsuckers and pileated woodpeckers. Stakes surround the Rhododendron sinogrande to facilitate a quick cover when temps drop. Several young trees are caged against the antler rubbing of male deer. But sometimes aesthetics must take a back seat to protective measures. Our hope is that eventually the trees will gain enough heft to stand up for themselves, the wraps will come off and all will be beautiful. Next, we will find a non-lethal way to drive out the gophers, our fortune will be made and we can turn our place into the paradise that exists in our imaginations.

Redbud reborn

I leave you with one last, hopeful example of rebirth. Like the sourwood, this redbud died for no apparent reason. Again like the sourwood, shoots came up around the base. The new growth is vigorous to a fault, and now stands taller than the original tree. All of this took place with no intervention whatsoever from us. What is the lesson here? I have no idea. Any thoughts? (see Sarah’s comment below. I think she got it right)

18 thoughts on “death & rebirth

  1. My husband has now killed 30 moles this year and the remaining ones appear to have learned their lessons well and now seem to be impossible to catch as they tunnel everywhere. I guess they do loosen up the soil, but…

  2. Lessons? That plants are a lot tougher than we thought 🙂 Sorry to see the conifer persihed but great to see some of the other coming back. And it’s true that sometimes aesthetics have to take a back seat, in preference to protecting precious plants first.

  3. Patience is a virtue? No good deed goes unpunished? I’m not sure what the lesson is here but hearing about your critter problems makes me think that our urban pests (raccoons, squirrels, rats, drunken people falling into the parking strips and shredding parts of them trying to get back up, etc. seem a little more bearable.

  4. When I envy you your acreage, I remind myself that you have other issues to deal with as a result. We are spoiled here in the city. Dog pee is my biggest foe! I hope all your protective strategies will result in some mature and lovely trees and shrubs for you in years to come.

  5. Shirley~Oh, I never thought of putting them up and then taking them down. There are more chores than we can handle already, so I guess that is not an option here.

    Alison~I guess no matter where we live there will be some critter to provoke us.

    Linda~The clumsy me damage can remain our dirty little secret, OK?

    Kathleen~So nice to see you here. Did you see the post on your garden?

    Loree~Well, you famously court danger of a different kind.

    Julie~Yes indeedy…fall on your knees.

    Mark & Gaz~Well, I guess you are getting a graphic demonstration of the toughness of some plants.

    Peter~Thanks for reminding me of our urban equivalents.

    Jane~We have quite a few trees that have escaped the scourge (fingers crossed). Envy works both ways: I envy your manageable space that is so beautifully designed and filled with special plants.

  6. It’s funny – I just got back from walking my dog, composing my next blog post in my mind. It is going to be about plants that I thought were dead but miraculously appeared again. Great minds think alike. The lesson is, we pretend we know, but we know nothing.

  7. Yes, I agree–Sarah nailed it. This would be a great post for the Lessons Learned meme now live on PlantPostings. My garden has its share of chicken wire fencing, too–around the veggie garden and around the Clematises. Rabbits are my nemeses.

  8. Beth~Not sure how much I have learned, but I will check out your new meme.

    Anna B~I am with you (almost) all the way. It is only the gophers we truly rail against. The other critters, we just seek ways to foil their efforts. There is plenty for them in the surrounding forest, so they don’t NEED our delicacies to survive. We do share the windfall apples and pears, so maybe we are sending them mixed messages.

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