THE TALLY IS COMPLETE, though I avoided facing it for nearly two weeks. My dear neighbor, Herb, with the smaller of his trusty chainsaws, did the deed: took down the disfigured or otherwise devastated woody plants that the freakish October 2011 snowstorm maimed. I walked around with him the other day, once I had gotten past the initial shock, and pointed: Take the left side of this; this one goes completely; remove the three broken stems from that one. And then I went out for the afternoon, returning only after all evidence was erased. (Wimpy, I know.) The body count:
In addition to lots of big parts of old maples and oaks along the woodland edge of the garden:
- Lilacs: These were the hardest hit of everything, and I stand to lose 6 mature shrubs. So far: 1 takedown of a 15-footer; 3 partial similarly large upright shrubs removed (subject to probable removal next year–doubtful they’ll rebound); 1 rounded, shrubby specimen looks iffy, too, but we left it till spring;
- Metasequoias: ‘Gold Rush,’ 1 takedown; 1 very large green-leaved type lost a lot of branches (we shall see on that one);
- Willow: My beloved rosemary willow, Salix elaeagnos, took multiple hits. It will live, of course, but what a mess; will work on reshaping it once its leaves fall;
- Viburnums: 1 large partial shrub removed (may outgrow);
- Dwarf white pine: 1 arm removed (thankfully the old Pinus strobus ‘Nana’ will outgrow the loss);
- Sassafras: Top of tree and one side of lower canopy broke off in storm; will be a takedown shortly. Those are some of its former branches loaded into my old pickup, above. Just three weeks ago a garden friend visited and said, “Your sassafras is really shaping up into such a great tree.”
- Magnolia: 3 hefty chunks removed (will outgrow the loss);
- Apple: a side of one of the old trees had to go (even more-lopsided-than-ever tree will remain).
The same friend who commented on the sassafras says this about garden losses:
“Bury your dead, and fast.”
The idea, he’s been reminding me over and again the last two weeks: Erase the evidence of disaster, and start imagining what you will put in the empty places–a much better view of the landscape, and life, than holding on to disappointment, of course.
We have learned the hard way to brave the storm while in progress and get the snow off the plants – a few times if necessary. It worked for us this time except for the winterberries which are bent to the ground. I’m hoping to be able to trim and use stabalizing wiring in the spring to bring them back to their upright growth habit. If that doesn’t work, we’ll just consider them nature’s work of art as they are.