Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘dying pine trees

Disappearing House

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Two years ago, in the springtime, I mounted a bird house on the tall stump of a pine tree that had died, and then I took a picture of it.

Even then, two tiny volunteer tree sprouts can be seen making an appearance at the base.

When squirrels bury acorns, trees often follow. When oaks sprout, we are not in a hurry to remove them, even when they appear in locations that may not be ideal. Who doesn’t want more oak trees surrounding them?

The same can’t be said for the scourge of box elder, common buckthorn, and thorny American plum that overtake all the neglected spaces along property lines and ditches. When they try to spread their way into our managed grounds, they meet with swift action.

This is what two years of oak growth looks like when you let nature do its thing:

Where did the bird house go?

It is reaching the point where some serious pruning is warranted to convert this little oak shrub into a future healthy tree.

While I’m on the subject of trees, I will report a surprising turn of events for a lot of the long needle pine trees that were looking like goners last year. Many have produced an amazing effort to sprout green needles on almost all of the lower portions that looked completely dead last fall.

For the previous several years, the pines would try to sprout new growth on the dead-looking lower branches in the spring, but it proved futile in just a matter of weeks afterward.

This summer they seem to be enduring just fine. Temporary reprieve? Or, signs of hope for a future full-recovery?

We’re going to imagine it a step toward recovery. It is helping me to understand the amazing resilience of growing things, and justifies my tendency to be slow in making decisions about giving up on plants without giving them the potential of another season to get over whatever might be dragging them down.

Maybe soon I will be able to remove the bird house from the stump and hang it from a branch in a new maturing oak tree in our front yard. Not that I think that pine stump will be making a comeback anytime in the future.

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Written by johnwhays

August 10, 2017 at 6:00 am

Bitter Discovery

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There is a tree beside the shop garage with a canopy that overhangs a significant portion of the roof. There is no mistaking that it is a nut-tree, because this time of year it starts dropping its fruit with a bang. If they hit just right, it can make a sound like a shot from a rifle. Even if they don’t hit just right, the clank is unpleasantly startling if you are close, and surprisingly loud if you are further away.

That initial report is followed by an amusing rattle as the seed pod rolls down the slant of the metal roof. You can hear them gaining speed as they approach the edge, where they then drop down to another metal roof that covers the entry door, before rolling off that surface to the ground.

The driveway in front of the garage is getting littered with nuts, so I decided to collect a few of them. I was under the impression that this tree was just like the many other nut trees on our property, butternut trees. Since the nuts of the butternut tree are known for having a good flavor, every fall I feel like we should be collecting them for use somehow.

We did take a crack at it the first year we were here, but while waiting for them to dry out, they got all funky and we threw them away. I wanted to try again. I encouraged Cyndie to start collecting them and look up ways to prepare them for consumption.dscn5203e

A day later she was asking me to look into it, because these didn’t look like the pictures she was finding for butternuts.

Sure enough, I quickly discovered these were not butternuts. This tree is a bitternut hickory, providing just the opposite of good flavor. I think it is funny that it took me this many years to figure out it was a different nut.

While researching a comparison of the two types of trees I stumbled upon an alarming detail about the butternut tree. It produces a toxin that can stunt growth or even kill certain susceptible plants in the vicinity of its roots.

Included in the list of susceptible plants: white pine and red pine.

Could that be what has been taking out our pines?

Plenty of the details match what we have witnessed in the last few years.

If I find out cedar trees can tolerate the toxin, that’s what I’d like to plant in place of those lost pines.

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Written by johnwhays

September 23, 2016 at 6:00 am