From a recent walk.
We have some very big maple trees on our island. I like the early-spring brilliance of the new leaves way up there.
I’ve been fascinated with the resin that leaks from trees since I was a kid—the way it catches the light, the curving, growing shapes, the smell, the persistent, unaccommodating stickiness if you touch it, the fact that, fossilized, it turns into amber, always one of my favourite gems. Captured sunlight, at heart.
They’re bumps on an arbutus tree, I can tell you that much, but I don’t know how or why they formed. But for the life of me, when I look at the photo, I just see a school of very hopeful fish.
Today was the day we tackled the willow.
Our property has a small, deer-fenced veggie garden, probably built 15 years ago, long before we owned the place. It also has a pond, and beside the pond, a weeping willow.
The willow overshadows the garden. As a result, the garden only gets sun for the later part of the day, and over the last couple of years of gardening attempts it has become clear that just hasn’t been enough for a lot of veggies.
Now, we have talked about getting an arborist to do some work on the tree, but right now our spare change is going to other things. So we decided to take off some branches so that the garden would get more sun, and have been working at that in a fairly impromptu fashion. Today we went after a big one.
We don’t have a chainsaw. Neither of us was terribly enthusiastic about using a handsaw ten feet up on a shaky ladder.
Oh, did I mention that the big heavy branch we wanted to take out was directly over the rather frail garden fence? It was. So that added a bit of challenge too.
In the end, I went up the ladder and rigged two ropes: one over the branch above, tied to the one we were taking out; one on the branch we were removing, a bit further away from the trunk. One of us stood safely away from the tree, holding the ropes, the other attacked the branch with a pruning saw on the end of an extension pole. That way neither of us had to stand under the branch, which we figured was pretty heavy. We took turns doing one and then the other. (Yes, it took a while to saw through the branch with a pruning saw. It was about 5 inches in diameter at the base.*)
The system worked like a charm. The rope toward the end helped keep tension on the branch so the saw didn’t bind. When the branch was mostly cut through, it started to break, the end toppling earthwards, so I hauled on that rope and made sure the it cleared the fence, which it did very neatly. Then it was just finish cutting through the branch, and use the other rope to control the descent of the heavy end when it came free.
We took off some more smaller branches as well, and the garden is getting much more light. Hopefully this will pay off in veggies.
* Willows are soft and relatively easy to cut through. I would not try this with an arbutus.
The buds on this willow branch are sprouting quite enthusiastically. I find this slightly alarming, given that the branch was cut off the tree a month ago.
This is a half-fallen tree on our property—it’s dead but is leaning across a section of fence and is firmly wedged against another tree. It appears to have been like that for quite a few years and shows no sign of finishing the falling process. The trunk has lost its bark and when the light hits it right it silvers in some really delightful ways.