April 20, 2012

The Missing Middle

It doesn't look too bad. The pink dogwood is blooming at the corner of our driveway and it looks good.  Not bad at all, from this angle.  Beautifully shaped and elegant, as Cornus florida can be.  A perfect small tree.


From another angle you can see it is missing its middle.


The inner canopy of this tree was pruned out by a heavy snowstorm last fall, when the leaves were still on all the trees, and the weight of wet, early season snow was too much to bear.

The dogwood looked like this after the storm.


But my friend Becky said "just wait.  It won't look so bad next spring."  I wasn't buying it, the damage was right before my eyes and it was too awful.  I thought she was just trying to comfort me.

She was right.  The trees and shrubs that weren't outright decapitated or uprooted (I had several of those) do not look so bad this spring.  With some leaves on, or some flowers obscuring the wounds, it's okay.

Sunlight will get to the open middle now, new leaves will sprout, and the canopy will recover.  It may never have the dense, full shapely form it had, but it will look great, especially when hot pink flowers cover it, and especially from one side, where the damage to its shape is not visible.


This is where the gardener says "flaws and breaks and deformities add character to my garden."

Trees earn their places in our gardens year after year, documenting in their enduring, anchored forms the calamities, the struggles, the memorable occasions (I won't forget that freaky snowstorm) and the ongoing joys of watching the unpredictable unfold.

 

25 comments:

  1. Thank God for wise friends! It's beautiful!

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    1. Cat, thank god for wise friends indeed -- in all aspects of life!

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  2. In my opinion, it looks better than not bad. Exposing the middle amounts to some fine pruning. Like people, plants look natural with a few dings here and there. Nature knows. As does the gardener when she notes the added character. Nice pics, fine words, Laurrie. In my opinion.

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    1. Lee, thanks for the boost.... I do know that a few dings can't mar a really good tree (or person), but it was hard to believe that last fall.

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  3. I'm so glad you didn't lose this one outright--it still looks beautiful! I have a 70 year old dogwood in my front yard and I don't know what I'll do if anything happens to it.

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    1. Heather, your old dogwood will suffer broken branches or worse at some point, especially at its advanced age, so you do need to prepare yourself. What a treasure to have in your yard for now though!

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  4. Your friend was obviously right Laurrie. This tree is a keeper. I don't even mind the "bad??" side. Just goes to prove this one is a survivor.

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    1. Lisa, my friend was wiser than I. She had been through some devastating storms that broke her trees and plants in Kentucky, and had seen what recovery looked like the next year. Thank goodness for experienced gardeners.

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  5. I think we just have to appreciate the garden, scars and all, as we have no control over what Mother Nature dishes out to our precious plants. To my eyes, your Dogwood looks fantastic. It may not be perfect, but it shows a life lived.

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    1. Bernie, who would want a "perfect" garden anyway! I love how the expression "it shows a life lived" sums it up.

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  6. The trees are pretty resilient and your dogwood is looking pretty good. It should branch out nicely to fill in the middle.

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    1. Donna, I am quite surprised at the resilience of some of the trees --- and I was surprised that the ornamental cherries, Bradford pears, and redbuds were all lost. They were the weak ones, while the dogwood did well enough in the storm.

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  7. You gotta give the trees a chance to recover. Sometimes, the character a storm adds is actually cool.

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    1. Gardener on Sherlock, yes, exactly. The character from this unfortunate pruning adds something to the dogwood.

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  8. My dogwood is heavily leaning to one side... I don't know why but until it downright falls down I'll keep taking pictures of it from its 'good' angle! Yours really does look like its going to be barely noticeable by next season.

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    1. Jess, we all photograph best from our "good" angle don't we? Mine is from 20 feet away in dim candlelight. The dogwood should look normal soon enough and look good from every view.

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  9. Laurrie, What a lovely tree, the colors of the flowers are just right - not to intense and not so pale as to be lostin the mix. I totally agree about trees and their scars giving them more character. It's kind of like people...I can look at the scar on my elbow and remember when I was 7 and fell off my bike in the rain.

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    1. Debbie, thanks. Scars on people and on trees make stories!

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  10. I think she looks wonderful - a stalwart beauty. My dogwood has a weird bow to its trunk but is so covered in flowers I don't care. Gardens are like music. You need a little (or a lot) of funk and soul to keep it interesting. :o)

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  11. In the current issue of Country Gardens, in the back where the books are discussed, they reviewed a book about weatherproofing your garden against freak storms. So, of course, I thought of you! It's called Weatherproofing Your Landscape A Homeowners Guide to Protecting and Rescuing Your Plants by Sandra Dark and Dean Hill.

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    1. Tammy, I love the analogy to funky music... that's how a garden should look!

      I will have to check out the book advice on rescuing plants from storm damage, I've certainly had enough occasions to need this info. Thanks for the reference.

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  12. I remember seeing all the damage caused by the freak snowstorm in your garden last fall, and I'm glad to see the dogwood has recovered. It's beautiful, even with its battlescars!

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    1. Rose, Thanks. It's a good thing I took pictures right after last fall's storm, because now, in spring, it looks so different.. mostly not as bad as the original damage looked.

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  13. Laurrie, If you didn't know about the storm damage, you never would guess from looking at the tree. Honestly, it is really beautiful. You see white dogwoods often, but not pretty pink ones like this.

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    1. Jennifer, thanks! I love the white dogwoods blooming so sweetly at the edge of woodlands, but the pink ones belong as specimens out in a yard or garden.

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