|such small trees then . . . such big hopes|
But with a tree it kind of is a catastrophe. Even small ones are expensive investments. Trees take years to grow, and when I lose one, I am losing years of planning and hopes.
This year was particularly hard --- I lost two special trees that had been growing beautifully for several years. They were specimen trees in places of prominence in the yard, still small but filling out.
These two went kaput and have left a big gap in my garden:
Cercidiphyllum japonicum - Katsura tree
A tree that was to become a big shade tree on the east side of the house. I planted it in 2009 and it grew fast. But antler rub scarred the trunk badly in 2010 and a snowstorm in 2011 tore off branches and the trunk eventually opened up and split right at the base. It healed, but left no more than a quarter of the bark covering the trunk.
You can see its sorry history here.
It leafed out this spring, but with three quarters of its bark gone, it could not carry water or nutrients when summer came, and it began dying off branch by branch.
By early July I saw so many dry leaves at its base and empty branches. It isn't going to make it.
I will replant, but I am discouraged about planting another small tree that will take another half decade to reach the same size as this one.
Should I plant another katsura? If I do, I promise to wrap the trunk to protect against the deer this time. I can't promise anything about rogue autumn snowstorms, though.
Magnolia 'Elizabeth' - (hybrid cross of cucumber magnolia and Yulan magnolia)
This is a beautiful yellow flowering magnolia. I planted one in 2010. It bloomed at a young age and was destined to be a real eye catcher.
It suffered the same indignities as the katsura tree. Male deer rubbed some of the bark off one winter, the same freaky snowstorm damaged branches, and those two assaults led to bark cracking the following year.
You can see what a pretty tree it was going to become here.
Elizabeth bloomed this spring, and I was hopeful. But the tree did not leaf out. The bark damage doesn't look like much, but the crack left the bark completely separate from the core all the way around.
Should I plant another yellow magnolia? My research now informs me that yellow flowered magnolias are particularly susceptible to splitting bark, either from winter sunscald or damage to the tree's structure. So, no.
I can be patient, and I know most of my garden successes will be someone else's to enjoy -- I am not that young. But losing these trees after putting in the waiting and tending for several years is just crummy.
Replacing failed plants can be fun, everyone loves to go plant shopping and try growing new things. An open space in the garden is an opportunity. I'm just not feeling it with these two losses, though. These is kaput and so is some of my hope.