Last Friday afternoon, I heard (I was in Florida), the Arboretum experienced a brief violent storm that apparently included some powerful windbursts. These two Tulip Trees, Liriodendron tulipifera, are about 50 feet below the parking lot for the Asian Collections. It's easy to see the crack associated with the the tree farther downhill. Towards the left foreground the cracking is visible on the second tree (which is out of the picture front left). There seems little doubt that they will fall. Their roots are doubtless intertwined and likely grafted together as well.
George Waters is using his leg as a measuring device; he'll have to come back tomorrow so we can see whether the chasm has widened. With some luck and some cooperation from the weather, we hope to be able to have the trees removed before they fall and destroy a large portion of the Japanese Woodland. We hope. Still, things happen in the garden that are beyond our control....the worst disaster provides an opportunity to start over. Sometimes that's a good thing. Sometimes it means we can solve problems that we hadn't even been willing to acknowledge, much less approach, before. Still, we hope not to go there!
The storm also broke the top out of a large White pine across the road and knocked a couple of others over. White pines and Tuliptrees aren't especially strong though Pines have some flexibility built into their structure. Though both are components of mature forests here, typically their numbers dwindle as the years roll by and by the time the forest is 1,000 years old there are a lot more Oaks around than either of these trees. We'll still miss them.