Monday, February 18, 2013

It's cold out there. 19F this am and windy

Not windy like yesterday when gusts near 40 mph and sustained winds almost half that punished us all day. Still, pretty windy to be up in a tree. I have to admit that it's been entertaining this past year to sit in my favorite chair in the living room and watch tree climbers remove tree after tree. Of course it's also sad and more than a little scary. We live in a suburban setting with fairly small but deep lots,  between 100 to 200 feet from the rear of the house to the back property line. When we moved in almost 30 years ago there was a wonderful strip of trees straddling our back fences and stretching the length of the block. A bag of suet on our large Northern Red Oak drew all the species of woodpecker native to this area except the red-headed. We had Downys, Hairys, Sapsuckers, Flickers, Red-bellied, even Pileated. It was good to have even a small "woods".

Something, cumulative drought I assume, is killing those trees. They're of various species and likely other factors than drought finished them off. Oaks are susceptible to so many problems, Scrub Pines just don't live forever and ours were old and being overgrown by hardwoods. One of the trees was a large (~80 foot tall ~2 foot dbh) cherry and there isn't a disease that won't attack cherries or a pest that doesn't love them. Still, I have to think that stress induced by this long-term drought increased their susceptibility to whatever particular demon eventually dispatched them. The trees nearer the houses didn't suffer or succumb in the numbers that the rear-yard trees did. These lucky ones were more likely to have benefited from lawn or garden watering. Our huge Tulip Tree at the back of our garden seems fine but I made a point to deeply soak it several time in the summer.

Interestingly and happily, I note that Sassafrass trees have begun to grow in some of the new openings. This is a tree that tolerates drought and one that was more common when we first moved in. We now have a 20 foor specimen which I'm excited about. Also a Black Gum, another native that tolerated drought. It's an ill wind...