Sunday, July 30, 2006


Foam to fill the hole in the tree...

I used insulating foam to fill the cavity in the Bradford pear tree. First I vacuumed and blew all the dust and crap from the hole which has lots of cracks and splits. Then I just filled the hole from the bottom to the top with foam. I was carefult to make sure all the broken wood was covered with a layer of foam.

Then I went in the house to have a beer. When I came out, the foam had filled ... and filled... and filled the hole and now it looks like a basketball got stuck in the tree.

Ballof foam in the tree wound. Now I have to trim it down and then paint it. It won't grow after curing for 24 hours. Then it can be cut with a saw and shaped with a rasp. In outdoor conditions, it must be protected from the weather.

The chips from the tree look like about 5 yards. The pile got rained on for a day. Now it is filled with mold. Each forkfull is full of mycilium from the fungus growing in the pile. I suppose that is good for the soil.

I put a bunch of the chips around the blueberries because it is supposed to be acid. It will also soak up all the nitrogen from the plants. It will burn if ignited, and I expect it will attract termites. I am placing it by the chainlink fencing and away from the house to minimize the termite problem. It took one yard to do the blueberries.

Wood chips placed along the chain link fence by the Rose of Sharon.I have placed a couple more yards (three carts full is one cubic yard) along the back chainlink fence. This area is sort of neglected. It backs up to overgrown Rose of Sharon alternating with overgrown forsythia in the neighbor's yard. The chips look good.

Friday, July 28, 2006


The Bradford pear gets fixed...

On Monday after the Bradford pear fell, I called several tree companies to get quotes on cleaning up the mess. I selected vendors with arborists on staff to get the quotes. Two replied promptly and the third called in too late after I gave the work to one of the others. I selected Arbor Care of East Tennessee in Lenoir City, near where I live. Their bid included removing the fallen limbs, adding cables to the tree to support the main remaining limbs, removing all the internal small stuff like suckers to open the interiors to let the wind through. Here are the pictures of the work in progress.

The two large branches of the Bradford pear lying on the ground. This is what I saw when I looked from the back porch after the tree fell. The tree just whisked the end of the house. Some of the leaves were caught by the end of the gutter and there is a little damage to that end of the gutter, but not much. We will see if and when it rains. My son and his wife were sleeping in that room when ith tree snapped about 11 PM. It scared the hell out of them.

The workers began cutting the tree about 8 AM on Thursday. The workers were here bright and early on Thursday morning. They began cutting before the foreman rang the doorbell. By the time I got the camera to take a picture the big limbs were cut and they were dragging away the pieces to go into the shredder. No, he is not sawing up the chair. We placed chairs and tables in a group and normally sit there in the evening at sunset and enjoy the garden and maybe a glass of wine. One chair was crushed. The other stuff was OK.

The wound in the tree will be very weak.
The wound in the tree looks like this now. The arborist pointed out that this was a very weak system now and needed to be reinforced to withstand normal winds. "It may still break," he said, "but with the cableing, it won't fall like the other did. It will just hang down."

The branches were fed to the chipper that quickly reduced the pile to chips in the truck.All the branches and most of the stumps were ground up and blown into the truck. This chipping machine is a monster. It has steel "grabbers" that bite into the material and drag it into the maw of the chipper, then take anothere bite. Inside a hammer mill chops everything into 1/2 inch chips. It is fast, too. The pile was gone in just a few minutes. I was amazed at how fast it worked.

The workers climbed into the trees and cut away all the little stuff using sharp saws.The next work was to trim the small stuff out of the insides of the three Bradford pear trees in the yard. The workers climbed up into the tree and with a hand saw, rapidly took out all the little stuff. They also took out crossing branches and suckers. And, at my suggestion, they took out many of the branches coming from the bottom of the parent branch. These men carry a holster for the saws and I noticed that they have learned to respect the sharp points. They are quick, but careful and take care of their tools.

Eyebolts were used to cable three of the main branches together to make the tree stronger.When they were done, the shape of the tree was unchanged (except for the big break) but the interior was empty of all the little stuff and very open. This allows the wind to blow through the tree and reduces the stresses on the lower branches.
Finally, they attached eye bolts to three of the main branches in the damaged tree and wired them together. They used galvanized cable which should last as long as this short-lived tree will last.

What now? Since the tree will maybe last for another 5 years or so, I will plant a longer lived tree between it and the house to grow into that space. I have some maple trees that would be ideal. So, that is the plan. I will plant one of the maples in front of the pear. The other will shade the bedroom in the afternoon. In addition, I think I will plant several dogwoods in front of the maple tree as well. These grow fast and are also short lived. When the Bradford pear finally goes these trees will be will on their way and can fill in quickly. So, thats the plan.

More later. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Brittle Bradford Pears!

This morning, Sunday, July 23, 2006, this is what I found in the back yard. A good portion of the large Bradford pear tree has fallen down. Snapped off right where the branch and the trunk meet. Two branched fell. My son and his wife and children were staying overnight and they were in the room near the tree. When it fell, the tops of the branches whisked across the end of the house sounding like a bookcase falling down. All preceeded by the sound of the branch snapping, of course.

Interestingly, the tree branches fell on our little set of chairs and tables that we use when sitting on the lawn in the shade. One chair was crushed. The others appear to have survived, but are locked in the cage of branches. I am having wierd thoughts of what would have happened if we had been all sitting there when the thing fell.

My neighbor had three of his Bradford pears trimmed nicely by a local tree company. I will call them tomorrow and get a quote. They did a nice job for him. I have a chain saw and could cut up the fallen portion, but I cannot thin the remaining top, so it is all a job for a professional. I think I need an arborist to sign off on the plan, too.

Meanwhile, we have four english boxwoods, three Delaware Valley white azaleas, a dozen hostas and a couple of day lilys to plant...and a fringe tree waiting to be put into the ground. Also the tree seedlings in the tree nursury are outgrowing their space and need to be put into the ground permanently. Some planning to do for that.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Planting mugo pines...

Today I planted 9 little mugo pines (pinus mugo mugho). These were late season on sale plants from Wal*Mart for $3.00 each. I put one out front last year and it is growing slowly, but nicely. These plants get 4 feet wide and 4 feet high at maturity, but don't look on the web. The pictures of these full grown plants are up to 20 ft high. Mostly they will stay small rounded evergreen conifers. Just right for the winter garden when everything else has lost its leaves. I planted two at the base of the larger trees in the planting beds I have established around each tree. These beds have a five foot radius which is a nice tight turn for the lawnmower.

The weather is hot and humid and things are drying out. The township has put us on watering only three days a week. Odd and even address alternate and no one waters on Mondays. With all the new plants I have in the ground this year, I have to be careful to keep them alive.

Still have about 3 more yards of mulch to place. So much to do, I have a tough time deciding what to do next.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Five yards of mulch for the front yard...

Grandson, Ryan, came over for the weekend and we placed five yards of mulch in the beds of the front yard. It goes on thick and lasts a couple of years. This is just ground brush mixed with composted sewage sludge and is available from several processing plants in the area. No color added, just brown mulch. We placed it 3 to 4 inches thick and the five yards just did the front yard.

We also trimmed the eunonymous manhatten in the front. These things are varigated with yellow and green leaves. When I trimmed them, it became apparent that they are infected with scale. I think I will take them out and replace with something else. They can grow too big too fast and need trimming. At my last house I had one that was planted too close to the house and it got pretty big, then fell over. Just pulled itself out of the ground. I cut it way back and it came back just fine. These are indestructable.

That done, Ryan, who is just 16 and just got his learners permit, got to mow the back yard on the riding mower. After he finished we went over it again and did the places that he missed. He has a lot to learn. Nice kid. "A" student. Can't hammer a nail.

I spent today, Monday, pulling the rye out of the glads. The rye got big. Now I will have rye weeds forever in that area.

I still have 8 mugo pines (pinus mugo mugho) to plant. Also a fringe tree awaiting a decision on where to put it. Also have to move one of the maples that is now aproaching 6 ft tall. It was an arbor day seedling two years ago. I want to plant it where it will cast evening shade on the bedroom in the summertime. I need to go out and cut the roots for the rootball.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


My computer crashed, lost all pics of garden...

This is a sad note. My big computer crashed. Yes, the one I built that had the big disk and a backup disk died. I think the backup disk is OK, but I am not sure. In any case, the pictures of the garden after I got the coral bark maple went to the bit bucket behind the desk.

Where am I now? The Rye has grown and most has been removed or has glads growing up in it. The lilies didn't prosper in the rye.

The vegetable gardens are very productive this year. I clearly have planted too many tomatoes and zuccini. We have a very prolific papaya squash that produces large yellow summer squash by the basket full every time I look at it. My wife does not like it as much as the normal summer squash.

My tan pumpkin has overtaken the garden area where it was planted with a vengance. I mow it where it invades the lawn.

My grandson (he is 16) and I put in a parking pad for the RV. This is a gravel pad that is level and near water, sewer, and our new 30 amp electric outlet. I have filled around the pad with top soil and tapered it down to the lawn level, then reseeded with fiscue. The bermuda is comming up fine.

The path to the woods in the corner is essentially done. I may move one plant later on. There are 15 little azaleas from Wal*Mart, you know, the ones for $1.75, and a nice rhododendron and the coral bark maple in the island part of the garden. Along the fences are 3 Alabama azaleas, some asian lilies, a Star magnolia, two rhododendrons, and a native azalea. Then the fence across the corner.

I put two hinges and a gate latch on this fence section to make it look like a gate into the woods. Wife put some artificial flowers on the gate in a little moss basket. It is too dry and shady for anything to grow in the basket.

Along the next fence are another rhododendron, a witch hazel, three summer lyric azaleas, five Virginia sweetspire, four winterberry (including one male) and a multistemed redbud tree.

This whole thing took a while to complete, lots of holes to dig. To dig the holes, I used this technique: Clear the existing mulch away to reuse around the new plant; Dump a bucket full of soil amendment and some 10, 10, 10 fertilizer on the spot for the hole (it is good clay); Dig the hole a shovel depth all around mixing the amendment into the soil as the soil is loosened; Toss out any rocks and cut any roots from the trees; Plant the plant, backfill halfway, soak with water; Full the remainder of the soil, making a basin with the excess; Return the mulch, then get a beer. We have had a hot spring.

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