When I took the job at the Priory, I (naively) didn’t appreciate how much time and care the trees would require.
Each year, I arrange for any sickly, dangerous or unwanted trees to be felled and for dead, rotten and restricted branches to be removed.
If a smallish tree needs felling or a low branch removing, I’ll do the job myself; anything larger and I need to get in help. This year, there were no trees to chop down (a good thing) but I still had tree-work that was either too high for me to reach (I have no head for heights) or beyond my skill level (hard to believe I know, but true).
On the drive, just before it turns and enters the gardens, is a large candelabra-shaped ash tree. After a mighty storm in early February, a big, rotten section of one of its many stems, crashed to the ground below. Peering up at this elephant-skinned giant, I could see that there was still a big length of trunk and two or three dead branches that needed to be removed. (At this point, the drive is a public right of way and so the tree needed to be made safe).
So, at the end of March, I hired a local company (who I’ve used these past two or three years) to tackle this and two other jobs. Jack (the tree surgeon) gradually reduced the rotten bole …
… and removed the dead branches.
I also asked for advice on two of the big oaks on the east lawn. We had spoken about them last year and I wanted him to cast a professional eye over them.
Here they are on the right. They have sparse top growth, crumbling bark and plenty of dead branches. Last year he told me that they were dying from the top down and probably won’t survive many more years. He suggested that they may have been struck by lightning.
Unlike ash, oak is as hard as iron (-ish) and far less likely to shed branches; unless they are rotten. After a quick inspection, he saw no need to carry out any remedial work. These two oaks should be fine (and safe) until another check is carried out next year.
Reassured, we then moved on to job number two. This was a quickie; just a simple lifting of the tree-crown (by the removal of two or three lower branches) from the tulip tree next to the house.
We wanted to increase space and light for the amelanchier on the left and for the yew hedging beneath.
You can hardly see the difference which is how tree maintenance should be, I suppose. Nothing too drastic.
But the final job was to be more drastic.
On the west lawn by the pond are six weeping willows and I had been asked by the Priory owner to have the crown of the largest reduced by about 25%. I was worried that such a big crown reduction, at this time of year, would look ugly, perhaps harm the tree and (despite being willow) that it wouldn’t re-sprout.
“Such a big crown reduction, at this time of year, won’t look too ugly, won’t harm the tree and (being willow) it will soon re-sprout,” said Jack. Huh?!? I hate that mind-reading thing he does.
Once more aloft, Jack starts work while his assistant waits below.
And when they had finished? Noticeable certainly – but more light for the house and for a pair of adjacent birches.
A good morning’s work then. Three jobs done, loads more firewood for me to chop next winter, plenty of waste for a big bonfire (always a joy) and a metre high mound of wood chippings. And the trees on the estate made safe for another year – fingers crossed.