November 7, 2011

A Farewell to Pears

Thank you to all my blog readers and commenters who expressed concern this past week.  You are all such great support.  Lights and heat and hot water are back on for us here, but fully one third of our town is still without power 9 days after the storm that flattened north central Connecticut.  School is still out, the stores are unstocked, the temperatures still cold.

Jim and I have cleared the branches we could reach, dragged the top half of my prized young trees away, leaving naked stumps, and I am busy cleaning things up around the yard.

Before I head back outside and get things to a point where I can show you nice pictures of my garden again, I have to show you this.  It is what was left of a Bradford pear on our street.  All the pears fell apart, every last one in town, but most cracked up in ungainly, awkward ways, with dangling limbs and split branches, looking like something violent had happened.

This one just gave up, laid down and surrendered.

Really, I had to laugh.  This was one of the more mature pears, and it had been 30 feet tall before the storm.

Another silly sight is the mile and a half of road median planted with nothing but pears in a long line along a street that serves an industrial park in town.  There are hundreds of pears and every one is a pile of debris.  Because it is an industrial area, there are few other trees around; it is all very open.  So the mile-plus of shattered lumber looks like the trees were machine gunned in place.

At least this one, lying down so gracefully, looks like it went quietly.

Rest in peace, Bradford Pear. 

I hope the industrial park, the malls and shopping centers, and all my neighbors choose another tree to replant.

I'm sorry, but I have to update this post. The neighbors (very nice people) have tried to save the pear tree pictured above.  Today, 11/8, they cut up all the fallen branches and carted them away.  They took the one remaining spindly branch that you can just see arching out of the collapsed trunk . . .  and tied it to a large stake.  They put a mesh cylinder around the spindle, to protect it from, what?  Or to support it further I guess, in case the little branch gives up too.

I could not take a picture of this embarrassing development.  These are good people but they shouldn't be doing this to plants.


  1. Yes at least that one went gracefully lol and clean up will be a touch easier. Bradford Pears are so dense they just implode.

    9 days and counting without power for a third of your town?! :( We were without power for 7 days after Floyd.

  2. The city arborist will definitely have to come up with a new list of tree selections after this. Hopefully something tougher. Glad to see you are still hanging in there with your sense of humour! :)

  3. I got a kick out of your images of flopping Bradford pears. Easy color, fragile trees. I've never grown them. And, in these volatile-weather times, I'm betting many others won't either.

  4. Pear Trees may not be the first choice for median planting from now on! I would imagine the scene would be quite terrible to look at!

    It's great to see you've still got your sense of humour because I know from personal experience what it's like to find debris all over your yard.

    It's also great to hear that you've got the power back on. I do feel sorry for those who don't though. We were without power for 10 days earlier this year after the cyclone and there's just nothing fun about it!

  5. Laurrie, Two houses near mine have Bradford pears lining thier driveways. At one house nearly every tree looks as you describe. The other house, at a slightly lower elevation, had some, but not disastrous damage. Another property had a similarly lined driveway until Irene blew in. There's a lesson to be learned here.

    Glad your power is back and your back online.

  6. Sweetbay, yes, our town still has several thousand people without power. It was warmer today, but in the 30s at night. brrrr.

    Garden Ms. S, please, please, I hope the town planners plant something else. Not only are Bradford pears a structural disaster they are just way overplanted and boring.

    Lee, you were much smarter than I was. I did plant one early in my gardening "career", and regretted it. As of today it is lumber, piled in my side yard.

    Bernie, I have watched your property recover slowly from Yasi, and I hope we will see good recovery around here too. We are going into dormant winter season here, and won't really see much until next April or May! Stay tuned.

    Joene, I enjoyed your GOOPs post about not panicking when snow bends woody plants to the ground... and I do have several that bent and laid down sideways but kind of popped back up after the snow melted. There are survivors : )

    There certainly is a lesson about Bradford pears, though!

  7. We have the same alleys of pears here. Whoever does commercial landscaping must have gotten a great deal - buy 100 and get 500 free! Every year I'm surprised they're still standing. What trees survived the storm?

  8. I linked your blog to my post for today. :o)

  9. That's a Bradford for ya! These images will be all around the web because the Redspire pear post I did is my most researched post. And what they are looking for is images like you posted.

  10. Tammy, Your question on what did well has prompted me to write a post on the trees that survived just fine. I'll put that up in a few days. I did have survivors I am happy to say.

    Donna, If so many people research these trees to see how badly they perform, why, oh why, are they overplanted all over the country? It's so bizarre.

  11. Wow. Flat. I was expecting our local callery pears to do the same thing, but here in Brooklyn the snow blew off just in time. Can you believe they were voted tree of the year in 2005?

    So sorry about your own trees.

  12. It seems so early in the year for such a bad storm! I have heard that Bradford pears are brittle trees that often break apart in a storm. They are so pretty when they are young and healthy, but this is an example of why fad trees are not usually the best way to go. I hope eventually the pears are replaced with a variety of equally beautiful but stronger trees.

  13. The pears did break in our area also but it was not as severe as in yours. Sad....sorry for all the work ahead. Pear wood is supposed to be good for...smoking things?

  14. Poor Bradford Pear! It really is flattened. It is weird that here north of you, we have been enjoying unseasonably mild temperatures. Tomorrow a balmy 17 degrees is forcast. Mother Nature sure has a weird sense of humour!

  15. RIP, indeed! The Bradfords around here were so confused a week ago that they all started blooming! I agree, hope your neighbors find a better replacement. So glad to hear you're powered back up, Laurrie!

  16. Marie, I thought the pear's liabilities were well known ages ago --- can't believe it was tree of the year in '05!

    Deborah, It will be interesting to see what choices people make in replacing the trees. There are so many choices but so little knowledge among commercial landscapers or town officials.

    Layanee, I'm not sure what pear wood is good for, not much I don't think! Apple wood is aromatic when burned, I know.

    Jennifer, Thank goodness someone is getting a warm autumn. Glad you're having a nice season up there.

    Cat, Thanks! You have to admit the pear is pretty when it is blooming, although in the proper season!

  17. If anyone is checking back in -- I posted an update at the end of the above post. The neighbors have tried to save the pear.

  18. As a former owner of a Bradford pear, I will bet dollars to donuts that the awful pear sprouts from the unkillable rootstock! I've tried getting one to die, myself, and it always sprang back from the rootstock. They will LOVE the new pear that they think is the old pear, rescued from the dead. It is stinkier than the Bradford!

  19. Laurrie, Glad to hear things are starting to get back to normal for you. What great photos! That pear tree looks like it just gave up and surrendered to the snow. The pear trees around here seemed to fair OK (unfortunately), but we had a lot of damage to maples. Nothing quite as dramatic as in your photos but definitely maples seemed to be the most susceptible to snow damage this time around.

  20. Sissy, oh no, if this thing is saved it is now going to be the rootstock pear? Ick.

    Debbie, thanks. I'm glad you survived okay too. What a storm, it's funny how it affected nearby places differently.

  21. wow, I've heard that Bradford Pears are a somewhat undesirable tree but now I really see why. That tree looks like it collapsed in a puddle, kind of amazing really.

  22. Marguerite, it does look like a tree puddle, all flattened out in a circle!


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