One of the things that attracted me to my current property was the large number of trees. I grew up on a wooded lot in Illinois, so being surrounded by towering trees felt like home and provided me with a sense of security. It was as though the trees had their branches wrapped around me like a parent would embrace her child and protect him from harm.
Imagine my despair when I learned that the ash borer, a bug that targets and kills ash trees, had arrived in Chester County, PA. I have already seen some of my Ash trees succumb to the borer. They begin to die slowly from the top unless injected with certain forms of insecticide year after year.
I knew that I couldn’t realistically save all the trees as that strategy would have been cost prohibitive, so I’ve been selectively identifying those to keep. I have been saddened by taking down the dead and dying trees. I have an appreciation for how long they have been standing in my yard, likely before my house was even built and certainly before I was born.
As I have removed trees, I’ve replaced some of them with other species. I have added Dogwood (Cornus kousa), Witch hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ ), Carolina silverbell (Halesia Carolina), Sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) and Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia). While feeling somewhat guilty about replacing my long-time friends with newcomers, I’m trying to take a cue from nature. I have noticed the birds don’t’ seem phased by the fact that I have taken down some trees and replaced them by others. In fact, they seem to like the fact that the branches of my new trees are wonderful perching spots and in closer proximity to the birdbath than their predecessors. They are thrilled that some of the new trees are fruit-producing, giving them a bounty of delectable berries. The birds have moved on and so must I. I admit I like the flowers I now have in the garden that the ash trees didn’t produce. The witch hazel blooms in late winter, the dogwood and silverbell bloom in spring, and the stewartia and magnolia bloom in the summer.
|witch hazel with a remaining ash in the background|
|Magnolia virginiana blooms in the summer|
|Carolina silverbell in bloom|
And I take pleasure in the fact that I’m not only planting for enjoyment today, but also for the future. My shade garden will remain a shade garden. I will continue to have trees surround me and my property. And as a steward of the land, that makes me glad. So go out and plant a tree. Enjoy it for today and tomorrow.