For months, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my poor quince tree, which kept getting fire blight, a disease that can kill fruit trees like apples, pears and quince. I had tried tree Reiki and trimming off affected leaves and branches, but to no avail. I finally emailed Raintree Nursery, from whom I purchased the then healthy quince in Spring 2014. They sent me a link from nearby Purdue University of all places, with additional tips for managing fire blight. Apparently, I had not been removing far enough down the sick branches, so I’ve been trying to find a balance between compassion for this tree, minimal maintenance, and yet wanting to protect the rest of my home orchard from a potentially fatal bacterial disease.
David has listened to me go back and forth for months about Young Quince. Do I move him to an isolated location even further away from the black walnut Quince can supposedly tolerate? Do I cut him down? Do I keep trimming branches and hope he doesn’t infect my other trees? Decisions, decisions. I hate to cut down a healthy tree, but I also hate to knowingly expose others to this illness. In fact, Quince has not been a healthy tree, but I still felt like he deserved a fighting chance. I had called my mulch guy, Joe, who’s also an arborist to get his take, but he’s often in trees and not always able to return non-business calls. I inquired with other people who have quince trees, and no one could tell me if I should give major pruning another go or just cut my losses.
Yesterday, my friend Nicole came over to help me transplant shrubs, pull out morning glory and plant some of the hundreds of spring bulbs I felt compelled to order this year. As we worked outside on this beautiful day, it occurred to me to ask her if she knew anything about fire blight. As a matter of fact, she did! She had worked on a farm whose trees had fire blight and actually participated in the extensive, specific type of pruning. As far as she knew, the trees all survived, so we got out the loppers and some herbal antibacterial wipes, then started pruning Quince way back, eight inches below the last point of infection.
As soon as we finished, my mulch guy, Joe, drove by several times in his big tree service truck, waving each time and finally stopping to chat. He apologized for not getting back to me about my quince tree, but said it sounded like we did the right thing for a young tree. “Give it a chance!” Meanwhile, he explained why we kept seeing him drive back and forth on our street: he was helping the city remove all the dead ash trees on our block.
I had heard that all the street trees on our block were slated for removal in 2016 to make way for sidewalks, and I’ve been obsessively inquiring with anyone and everyone who might hold sway over that process. To no avail. Everyone denied knowing anything about trees on our block being cut down in 2016. Well! That’s because they’re being cut down in 2015. Yesterday, we learned from Joe that in addition to the several ash trees up the street, the two giant maples closest to the blue house would also be coming down “tomorrow” — as in today.
“Do you realllllly need to cut the maples?” I asked about six different times. “Yes, they’re not healthy. We’ve been over this. They’re rotting at the core. If they fall in a storm, they’ll blow out the power lines to the North side of town or crush these cars and houses.” And indeed, we have been over this before, but I kept trying to run interference for these trees. Knowing they might be gone in 2016 is partly what instigated my overly obsessive bulb buying frenzy and tree planting extravaganza. The only nice things on our street are my gardens and those trees.
I felt good that I had prepared myself for the seemingly inevitable, but I still cried about those trees. I talked to them and told them what would be happening to them on Friday. I went inside our house and took a photo of the one I love to look at through our skylight:
I went outside and thanked the maples for cleaning our air and for the beautiful sounds through their leaves. I thanked them for providing beauty for as long as they could until I got more trees in the ground in our yard and the yard next door. I took photos of them so that I could put them on our Samhain altar to honor the Ancestors and those no longer with us:
I sent them Reiki and cried a little more while telling David what was slated to happen on Friday. To make myself feel a little better, I made arrangements with the city arborist to plant a self-fertile persimmon tree on the north end of our lot, so that we’d have a beautiful street tree growing next spring from years of piled wood mulch out front. I also recognized that my saving Quince seemed like a balance. How could I complain about people cutting down healthy trees instead of trimming only their injured or diseased parts if I myself ripped out a still living tree just trying to create beauty and fruit?
Nicole and I processed the imminent tree death together and reminded ourselves that this is why we do what we do — to ensure we still have trees and beauty, especially in those areas that need them most. And then I let it go, sharing in an email to my fellow tree loving and wood mulch gardening friend Kimber:
I am so glad for buying all those bulbs and trees and shrubs. They are cutting down all the street trees on this block tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. 😦 Joe got the bid and is giving me mulch. I am sad, but also seeing the opportunities for new growth up and down the street. I emailed [the city arborist] about getting a persimmon on the north edge of my long standing wood mulch pile up front. Joe thinks it would be a good spot and still room for smaller drop offs.
So I guess people were technically telling me the truth that the trees were not coming down in 2016. They are coming down in 2015. I would be losing my sh!t if I didn’t have all these hundreds of bulbs already in, plus hundreds more, plus the witch hazel, privet hedge, cherries, climbing rose and a gooseberry going in up front next door. Really, I am so grateful I listened to my intuition to plant excessively, to plant gorgeous things NOW, because I am doing OK with this. A little sad, but without those things, I would be totally traumatized and unable to live here without those trees. Other than our yard, they are the only nice things on this block, so yeah, important to cut them all down. I will use this for leverage, though, and do what I can to get edible ornamentals or super fast growing ornamentals on the street.
I barely slept last night, and every time I awoke, I spoke to the tree through the skylight, holding vigil with it before this morning’s massacre.
Except the massacre never came.
I saw Joe this afternoon, and the dead and dying ash trees came down as planned, but suddenly, in this new reality, he checked the maples, and they are good for another 4-5 years! No need to cut them down. He will just continue to trim limbs if they start getting too close to the power lines. My eyes bugged out and I asked him a few more times, “So the maples don’t need to come down after all?! You’re not cutting them down today?” “Nope, they’re good, solid trees. You shouldn’t have any trouble with those for at least 4-5 years.”
I didn’t argue, and while I had him in my yard asked him to look at Quince. Apparently, Nicole and I did a great job, so we all hope Quince recovers. I sent Joe off with chocolate mint for his daughter, collards for him, and pineapple sage for tea or smoothies. He’ll be back tomorrow with a giant load of hardwood chips for paths, but he won’t be touching those maples.
I don’t know if a couple months ago, my cutting back the black walnut saplings that had been growing from their trunks had anything to do with the maples’ sudden return to health, or if faery magick, or tree devas did the trick, but whatever happened, I feel so relieved and grateful! The dead trees are gone and have made room for front yard gardens. Our city arborist is now keen to plant edible ornamentals as street trees on our block, and my two stately maple friends will continue to whisper in the wind and clean the air.
In gratitude and celebration of three tree interventions, I’m offering a 10/10 1-Day Special on Saturday, 10/10/15. For Saturday only, any hour long sessions purchased on that date will be $101.01 instead of the usual $175 (or $111 for tarot). I don’t have immediate availability to schedule, but this celebratory 1-Day Special rate holds through 11:59 p.m. East Coast US Daylight time on 10/10/15.
Please contact me if you’d like to purchase one or more of these specials. And whether you contact me or not, please go hug a tree. They’re wise beings and good friends. Long live the trees!