When my wife and I bought our first house in the summer of 2012 there were two trees in the garden; a large maple of some sort near the old shed…
… and a dwarf ornamental plum tree, Prunus cerasifera ‘Hessei’, outside the back door. The maple was too large and was chopped down, dug up and replaced with the little plum tree that same summer.
Each spring the tree has produced beautiful white blossom and it’s provided the birds with a safe pottering place near the bird table. However, as the years have passed by the dwarf plum tree has grown ever larger, quickly surpassing its alleged 2m x 2m height and spread in 20 years. Pruning it only seemed to encourage more vigorous growth and there were concerns that it might have been growing too close to a retaining wall. After a lot of umming and ahing the decision was made to replace it with something more manageable. Last Sunday I decided I’d make the most of a rare spell of dry weather and prepare poor Hessei for the big chop. This week’s SoS is all about that rather sad yet necessary task.
1. Preparation: This was the tree early on Sunday morning. I’d given it a bit of a prune a month or so ago thinking that there would be less to chop back come the big day. However, it had had other ideas, putting on a couple of feet of new growth. Before I could chop the branches right back though I needed to remove the solar powered fairy lights that had been adorning it for the past three years. A painstaking ten minutes were spent untangling the lights and all seemed to be going well until I got to this bit. A branch had grown around the cable and swallowed it up. There was no option but to chop through the fairy lights.
2. The big chop: The pruning saw and loppers were deployed and soon the poor tree was nothing more than a trunk. A fun-filled hour or so (with a break for lunch and some emergency cheesecake) was then spent chopping up the thinner branches so that they would fit into the two trugs (aided by a bit of jumping up and down) ready for decanting into my mother-in-law’s green waste bin.
Remember the fairy lights that the tree had gobbled up?
Here’s a cross section of the branch with the cables running through it.
3. The big dig: Initially that was all I was going to do. Rain was forecast for 3pm, I had a great big blister forming on the palm of my right hand (note to self – wear gardening gloves) and hey, what was the rush? Much better to leave the worst bit of the job, digging out the stump and roots, for another weekend.
Three hours later, a heavy drizzle falling and the light fading fast, a decidedly damp gardener, who was now semi blind having been forced to remove his mud splattered spectacles, was calling the tree all the names under the sun (which was but a distant memory by then) and frantically waggling the trunk back and forth in a desperate attempt to shake the damned thing free, while his long suffering and equally damp and mud splattered wife was fumbling under the tree, trying to locate the last few pesky roots and chop through them with the loppers. By 4.30pm we had prized the trunk from the ground and carried it triumphantly through the herbaceous border to the sodden lawn.
4. Logs: And there it lay, until Friday when, armed with a chainsaw loaned from a work colleague, I sliced it up into logs while my wife observed from a safe distance with her finger poised, ready to dial 999 (it was my first go with such an implement and for reasons unknown my wife and mother-in-law seemed to expect the worst).
5. Treelessness: It’s been rather sad looking out at the garden over the past week and seeing this view. The birds haven’t been too impressed either. A coal tit landed on the bench while I was stood next to the shed the other morning and gave me an accusatory look.
6. The new tree: After I’d sliced up the old tree with the chainsaw I planted the new one; a Eucalyptus gunnii France Bleu. It’s an evergreen that should, in theory, get no bigger than 2-3m tall (the overall size seems to vary from supplier to supplier) if left to its own devices. Alternatively, it can be pruned right back if needed. We shall see.
And they were my Six on Saturday on this cold and frosty morning. For more Sixes on Saturday, from all around the world, take a look at the site of the chap who started it all over at https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.