Brief Garden Update

Wonder Spouse tying a rope high on the branch while balancing on a cut branch.

I’ve got a more comprehensive post planned for later today, but I thought I’d share with my readers what Wonder Spouse did for me yesterday. It was a vacation day, and he wanted to do outside chores. My sinuses were not up to dealing with yesterday’s cold wind, but our wonderful garden helper, Beth, came out to try to ensure Wonder Spouse didn’t kill himself. Thank you, Beth.

Wonder Spouse decapitated a non-native Lagerstroemia fauriei yesterday. We acquired it decades ago after seeing some growing at the arboretum in the link. We really loved the bark. As you can see in the link, it is supposed to top out at 30 feet. Ours was at least 40 feet tall and still growing. Without question, the bark was/is beautiful. We decided to cut it down yesterday for two reasons. First and foremost, it was seeding itself widely, becoming nearly invasive. Experts on invasive non-native species will tell you this is something they worry about more with all crape myrtles these days. Second, because it grew taller and wider than we anticipated, it was shading out nearby desirable natives and also obscuring them from view.

Wonder Spouse did not cut the tree down to the ground. If it lives and sprouts strangely, it is welcome to do so. But I will not let the flowers grow taller than my reach, because I intend to remove spent flowers before they can go to seed from now on.

Before I realized what he was doing, Wonder Spouse had tied an extension ladder to the tree, carried his chainsaw with him up the ladder, and began cutting! When I realized what he was doing, I pitched a wifely fit and explained he didn’t need to cut the branches so high up. He was doing it to try to retain some of the tree’s aesthetic value. I hollered, because Wonder Spouse is far too valuable to risk on aesthetics.

The tree stump looks quite sad, but that causes me not a twinge of guilt. We are losing native biodiversity so quickly now that I feel obliged to make sure every plant on our five acres is serving the local ecosystem in as many ways as possible. The only species I ever observed using this tree were non-native honeybees, which seemed to find its fragrant white flowers every blooming season. I never saw any native pollinators on the flowers. Birds didn’t nest in the narrow branches. It wasn’t pulling its ecological weight.

Wonder Spouse is closing in on his seventh decade, and while he is in good shape for a man of his years, he groaned fairly loudly when we woke up this morning. I asked him how he was feeling.

“My lips don’t hurt,” he replied, implying, of course, that everything else did hurt. Thanks to Beth and my hollering, he’ll be his spry self by tomorrow I’m sure. One more task off the infinite to-do list, with, thankfully, no fatalities. Thanks to Beth for the photos in this post.

I’ll share more about that to-do list in another post very soon. Hint: the growing season is closing in on us fast.

  1. #1 by Dana on January 19, 2021 - 12:20 pm

    I’m glad Wonder Spouse didn’t fall. I had a ladder tied to a half dead
    Yoshino Cherry on Sunday and was reaching with a chainsaw to get the last branch
    And the ladder gave out. I have a huge contusion on my right arm and a large bruise on
    My right arm. I also punctured my right hand when I landed and it was very hard to stop the bleeding. Please tell wonder spouse not to risk this again.
    I have almost 30 years experience but it still happened.
    PS I have 3 different cultivars of Lagerstromia fairei and I love the bark.

    • #2 by piedmontgardener on January 19, 2021 - 1:03 pm

      Gracious, Dana! I am glad you are recovering. Those injuries sound vastly more painful than Wonder Spouse’s sore muscles. I think perhaps a no-chainsaws-in-trees rule for anyone who is not a professional arborist may be a good idea. 🙂

  2. #3 by jogarden2015 on January 19, 2021 - 1:43 pm

    Men. You’d think they would know better but even at 70some they still think they are indestructible just like they did when they were 17. Treat him gently. ________________________________

    • #4 by piedmontgardener on January 19, 2021 - 2:25 pm

      Wonder Spouse knows only one tempo — full steam ahead! I do my best to slow him down when I feel he’s being overambitious. 🙂

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