|From Whitetails in Our Backyard|
Not browsing of young leaves, not voles chewing the bark or rabbits eating the small saplings down to nubs, although all of those wreak some havoc on new trees too.
Not disease, or bugs, or storm damage, or hot dry summers when it was hard to keep them watered. Those calamities have been worrisome, but rarely killed my new trees.
I have lost more trees to deer using the slender trunks for scratching posts.
In late summer the male deer come by and use the trunks of young trees to rub the velvet off their shedding antlers.
At first I did not think it would be such a problem, and seeing a stag prancing through the yard on Thanksgiving morning was pretty awesome.
The bark on several trees looked shredded after an attack, but not like a fatal wound. But after a few years I found that sometimes the trees healed over, but more often the wound did not heal the following year, and by year two or three after the injury, the tree died.
|The spring following rubbing by a male deer the wound|
didn't heal and this beautiful linden died.
I lost a beautiful large linden in the front yard, a yellow flowered magnolia, a katsura tree, several maples on the back hill, a tuliptree in the meadow, and others.
The stags prefer smooth, thin bark against their antlers, and they like small caliper trunks about two to four inches that they can wrap the curves of their antlers around.
The big established trees, and trees with shaggy or peeling bark like river birches or paperbark maple are not targets, but new maples and lindens are sought out eagerly, and rubbed right down to the core.
So now every September I know I must put protective wrap around the trunks of most trees in my yard and in the meadow, and leave it up through winter. Faithfully, with no exceptions! I missed one young maple one year and of course it was the only tree in the whole area that got rubbed raw.
Worse, I had actually wrapped the trunk of the poor linden in fall, but took the protection off on Christmas Eve, as the tree was in the front yard and I wanted the decorated house to look nice for the holiday.
Christmas morning the fatal shredded bark was evident.
I use green plastic mesh fencing from Lowe's which is easy to cut with scissors (I tried hardware cloth and I have tried chicken wire, but that stuff is awful to cut into shapes, and just as awful to bend into a cylinder).
I make a tube around the trunk, and to fasten it together I use plastic clips. They are technically called orchid clips, I guess for florists to hold potted orchids on small stakes. They work just like hair clips.
|These are the kinds of orchid clips I use.|
They are easier and quicker to use than tying the mesh together with twine or twist ties -- that was too awkward for me. I just wrap, clip, and go. They hold all winter.
I hate the way it all looks, especially in fall when the trees color and come into what I think is their best season.
Here is my blackhaw viburnum, V. prunifolium, which I limbed up rather prettily. The mesh cylinder had to be large enough to go around the multi stems. It isn't terribly obtrusive, but it's there. Ugh.
This year I have another worry. A Japanese maple 'Bloodgood' that has grown into a lovely shape over the past seven years now has a terrible looking wound at the root collar. It has some kind of canker at the graft point but not above.
|You can see the sharp division line where the graft and the tree meet.|
The area is weeping and wet, but not soft or rotted in any way. The tree looks great -- leafy and full, but a severe canker can kill it.
|How I would hate to lose this tree now that it is so fine looking.|
|In fall the 'Bloodgood' maple is coppery but in spring the leaves are a gorgeous garnet red.|
Over the years I have learned to protect all the young trees I have planted from antler rub, but I am not sure how to protect this Japanese maple from a graft canker.
Why is growing trees to maturity so hard?