What A Difference A Tree Makes

Trees are lovely things, as a general rule. But sometimes, in coastal communities, trees can really get in the way, and unhealthy trees also pose a risk of causing real damage to nearby houses during a severe storm. So it was with the trees on the hillside of our neighbor’s property, which made yesterday morning “tree removal time” on the Greenhead Peninsula.

Through the work of Melvin and his backhoe and his friend Steve and his chainsaw, we cut down and hauled away more than a half dozen trees of varying sizes, including a large diseased tree located right next to our house. My role was basically limited to lifting and bundling branches for later removal, and since I value my fingers I tried to stay as far away from the chainsaw as possible, just to be on the safe side. It’s amazing, though, what a chainsaw, a backhoe, and a few hours of hard work can accomplish. As a result of our efforts, we cleared much of the hillside, as our neighbor wanted, and we also gave Melvin and Janet a view of the harbor from their kitchen window, just like they had years ago, when there weren’t as many mature trees in the neighborhood.

As a result of the tree removal operation, the neighborhood looks a lot different. The south side of our house now has dramatically altered views and will be getting a lot more sunshine on clear, cloudless days. We can also see the huge rock formations on the hillside, which I like. Our work has also affected the view from our upper deck, as shown by the before (above) and after (below) photos with this post. And now I don’t have to worry about a sick tree toppling into the side of our house during the next nor’easter.

Keeping To Tree Speed

Yesterday we drove over to Crockett Cove for a tulip show. It’s one of the more remote, less populated parts of the island, covered with what looks like a primeval forest. To get to our destination we followed a narrow gravel road — just wide enough for our car, without much wiggle room to either side — that wound through the trees for miles. At one point we passed this sign, which gave us a chuckle. I found myself wondering if the red car displayed at the bottom of the tree trunk, where bark had been knocked or scraped off, was a testimonial to an actual fender bender in the past.

Who needs a posted speed limit when trees are going to be effective enforcers of careful driving?

Green Trees

We are enjoying the desert foliage in the Oro Valley area. One of our favorite plants is this green tree, which is found all over the region and seems to thrive in the arid, sunny conditions.

All trees are green, of course, but this tree takes green to an entirely new level, because even the trunk and bark is a fluorescent green, which looks even greener in the bright sunshine. It’s the kind of tree Dr. Seuss would love.

A Sad Case Of “Apple Scab”

There’s a little crab apple tree in the side yard of our place in Stonington.  I feel sorry for it.  The tree seems to struggle and has never produced fruit or flowers during the time we’ve had the place.  It has remained small and spindly despite my best efforts to help it grow.  I’ve tried watering it liberally, and I’ve driven those tree fertilizer spikes into the area around the tree to try to give it nutrients.  Unfortunately, it remains stunted.  It may just be that the rocky soil isn’t good for a tree.

This year, a kind of white discoloration appeared on some of the leaves on the tree.  In trying to figure out what it was, I learned something kind of cool about the University of Maine.  The U of M Cooperative Extension offers the services of a plant disease diagnostic lab that will test any sample you send and let you know what the problem is.  You just clip off some leaves that show the problem, put them in a plastic bag, give them your name and address and email information, and send the sample off to Orono, Maine for analysis. 

We took advantage of the service to send in some clippings from the little tree for examination and testing.  Yesterday we received a report from one of the scientists working at the lab — about a week after we sent it off.  That’s pretty impressive, and much appreciated.

The news about our little tree was bad and good.  The bad news is that the tree now has to deal with a fungal condition called venturia inequalis, which is commonly known as “apple scab.”  It’s not exactly an attractive name, but then fungal conditions typically don’t get lyrical monikers.  According to the report, “apple scab” is common on apple trees that have not been bred for resistance to the fungus — so now we know that the little tree lacks good breeding, in addition to its other issues.  The good news is that the condition isn’t fatal, or even all that serious.  The diagnostics lab scientist does not recommend fungicide, and simply recommends raking and disposing of the leaves after they drop from the tree this fall.  And a University of Massachusetts website identified in the diagnostics report says we can hope that the tree will be better next spring.    

So we’ve learned something neat about how the University of Maine serves the surrounding community, and confirmed that our little tree’s bout with “apple scab” means it has another challenge to contend with.  And now we can only hope that the little tree, like everything else, will be better — much better — in 2021.