An Ever-Changing Landscape

By TBGDN
November 1, 2015

When I was young (as in much young-er), it never occurred to me that the vast "hand-managed" landscape that I call "my yard" would ever become a thing of constant change. Looking back at old pictures reminds me of how trees, plants and grasses are living, ever-evolving things! Now that I've "arrived" at the threshold of "age and wisdom", I find that hindsight clearly is more revealing and accurate than foresight! I had previously written an article titled: "Some Thoughts On Garden Planning," which dealt primarily with managing volume, size, and workloads in gardening. This article involves primarily trees and the "involuntary" or "natural" events that can affect them. Whether we are city or country dwellers, we are sometimes faced with tough decisions concerning them.

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Nov 1, 2015 1:44 AM CST
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Name: Bonnie Sojourner
Harris Brake Lake, Arkansas (Zone 7a)
Magnolia zone
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As an older gardener I have experienced the loss of some wonderful old trees that were a part of my everyday life. I can empathize with you and your family, Leon, in missing these garden sentinels. This article is a fine tribute to them.

Growing up on a farm I know just how valuable a tree can be. Not only valued for its shade but for all the wildlife it harbors, the skinned shins from climbing gnarled trunks, the swing hanging from its biggest bough, dreams sent up to the clouds from a quilt pallet under its cool, deep shade and sometimes the fruits or nuts it seems to provide with no effort. Even the old scrub oaks in the pasture gave shelter to sun weary cows on the hottest days. Who needs a calendar to tell the months or seasons when you have trees.

As to the poem...... it is one of the first ones I remember from my early school days. Thank you for posting this article. smiles
Thro' all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing; It finds an echo in my soul— How can I keep from singing?
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Nov 1, 2015 5:52 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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I love your article, photo's and the poem - thank you!

I am a tree lover too. All trees! I walk the dogs up our little mountain each day and several years ago, the folks that own the property adjoining ours, had all their trees cut. While I never walked on their property, I enjoyed their trees everyday on my walks. I sobbed and cried when they had them all cut. It broke my heart. It's mostly all grown back now but all pine trees which is fine but I miss the hardwoods.
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Nov 1, 2015 7:30 AM CST
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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Great article and poem! Trees are precious and I have felt deeply the loss of all the stately elms in my neighborhood, including a very large one on a neighbor's property that significantly changed sunlight patterns in my yard. We are now threatened with emerald ash borer, and I have a large ash tree in my east garden that will likely have to be removed at some point. Very sad.
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Nov 1, 2015 8:10 AM CST
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
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grannysgarden said:Growing up on a farm I know just how valuable a tree can be. Not only valued for its shade but for all the wildlife it harbors, the skinned shins from climbing gnarled trunks, the swing hanging from its biggest bough, dreams sent up to the clouds from a quilt pallet under its cool, deep shade and sometimes the fruits or nuts it seems to provide with no effort.
What memories that brings back! I can vividly remember similar things you describe, especially the skinned up legs and knees! That is very poetic when you said, "dreams sent up to the clouds from a quilt pallet under its cool, deep shade and sometimes the fruits or nuts it seems to provide with no effort".
grannysgarden said:Even the old scrub oaks in the pasture gave shelter to sun weary cows on the hottest days. Who needs a calendar to tell the months or seasons when you have trees.
I suspect they knew more about the calendar as well as what time it is (never mind Daylight Savings Time)! Smiling
grannysgarden said:As to the poem...... it is one of the first ones I remember from my early school days. Thank you for posting this article. smiles

You are very welcome! I just knew there were others out there with similar thoughts. Smiling
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Nov 1, 2015 8:16 AM CST
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
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vic said:I love your article, photo's and the poem - thank you!
I am a tree lover too. All trees! I walk the dogs up our little mountain each day and several years ago, the folks that own the property adjoining ours, had all their trees cut. While I never walked on their property, I enjoyed their trees everyday on my walks. I sobbed and cried when they had them all cut. It broke my heart. It's mostly all grown back now but all pine trees which is fine but I miss the hardwoods.

Thanks Vicki. It is disappointing to see trees removed for no good reason. I especially enjoy the fall colors. And I like the shade in the heat of summer. We have already replaced the ones in this article with re-plants.
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Nov 1, 2015 8:24 AM CST
Name: Vickie
southern Indiana (Zone 6b)
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How sad that you lost such beautiful trees. I hope you have decided to plant more.

Thank you so much for the reminder that nature is on its own timeline and we are merely spectators for the short term. Also, thanks for the reminder of the beautiful poem about trees. I loved that poem many years ago and had forgotten it.

Your article couldn't have come at a more appropriate time for me because the landscape is about to change at our home too. We are waiting for the tree-trimmer to come and cut down an old black oak tree in our back yard in the next few weeks. It is hollow at the base and the extension agent recommended cutting it down because it would hit the garage if it fell. It is about 150 years old with a 90 foot height and spread.

We never realized that the 3 in by 5 inch hole in this picture would lead to a 5 foot cavern inside our beautiful tree. At that point in the tree, it is probably 6 foot in diameter. My husband stuck a stick inside the hole and was able to make a full swing from left to right across the inside of the tree. He dropped a light into the hole and my daughter secured her iPhone to a stick (very securely), then stuck it in the hole to take a video. The video is probably to large a file to upload, but the wood inside was damp looking and stringy. Awesome and scary at the same time.
Thumb of 2015-11-01/blue23rose/52066c


This picture is from 2013. In a few weeks there will be a gaping hole in the scene. The oak tree with its golden brown foliage is in the back of the picture, directly to the right of the house. We are already looking at trees to decide what to replace it with. An Autumn Blaze maple sounds good.
Thumb of 2015-11-01/blue23rose/5ff85d
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Nov 1, 2015 8:25 AM CST
Name: Vickie
southern Indiana (Zone 6b)
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Glad to hear you replanted, Leon! We are hopelessly optimistic in thinking we will be around long enough to see the trees reach a nice-sized height Thumbs up
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
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Nov 1, 2015 8:27 AM CST
Name: Susie
Leonard, Minnesota (Zone 3b)
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I agree with all the above! From our childhood when climbing them was our greatest source of entertainment, to the fruit we use for sweet treats and healthy snacks, they are an enormous part of everybody's life. But as a gardener they become the bones in our gardens. The loss of the main tree in a shade garden is a disaster and the sound of the birds and critters that make their home in them is the music for our ears and the delight of our eyes as we watch them going about their business. The loss of one in our yard is like the loss of an old friend and is sorely missed.

I too love that poem. I don't remember where I first read it but reading it in your article was like seeing an old friend. Thanks for the lovely article! Smiling
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Nov 1, 2015 8:37 AM CST
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
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Vickie,
We have a black oak behind our garage too that seems to have the same conditions. I have agonized about removing it, but am hoping for another year or two. It is a wonderful old tree, and I am hoping we can wait before taking it out. However, I might need a second opinion. Sad
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Nov 1, 2015 8:52 AM CST
Name: Vickie
southern Indiana (Zone 6b)
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Leon, it sounds like you've been through a lot with all the trees you've lost. It is an agonizing decision for sure.
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Nov 1, 2015 10:02 AM CST
Name: Arturo Tarak
Bariloche,Rio Negro, Argentina (Zone 8a)
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For those like myself that are towards the twilights of life, planting trees is part of the stewardship that implies caring for the patch that each of us have been so blessed to have! They beautify the landscape, or modify improving it as in my case.. The original landscape and environment was one almost of a treeless dry scrub half wild, full of thorny wild hip rose( Rosa eglanteria) that was introduced as hedge plant by the original settlers that came over from southern Chile, perhaps 120 years ago. The invasive hip rose became an impenetrable thorny bramble and we painstakingly had to clear it all with brushcutters.
So fully grown trees mean so much to us here as well! We need desperately trees as windbrakes . I have chosen Leyland's cypress, over faster growing poplars ,because they are not so slow growers, slender, very elegant and upright, almost columnar, and they can be clipped as a tall evergreen hedge.I have sown, this spring from my own seed, stratified them in the frig and about 100 emerged! I keep sowing tree seeds, although I doubt that in spite of owning a 6 acre little farm, there will be place for everyone of them. This year I successfully sowed also Arborvitae and Westermann's Chamecyparis.
Although trees are important and define the structure of a property, like everything else, they mature and sometimes require being cut down. Even a structural change that implies a tree that is no longer there, it opens up an oportunity for something new. Also new room for sun loving plants that had been slowly been pushed away by the ever enlarging shade area of a full grown tree.
Gardening is for me not so much a place where I grow what I have or want, but rather a place where my prayers in gratitude become intimately true. I feel particularly blessed when something happens right ( in view of so much that can and usually does go wrong) . I'm always amazed at our Lord's mercy! Trees come and go, so do we, ...perhaps one leaves for those who follow a fleeting reminder of having toiled to leave a better place than that we found when just started, regardless the size or growth stage of trees. Others will pick up and hopefully do a better job than myself and... continue praying....
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Nov 1, 2015 10:06 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Leon, what a wonderful article and one very close to my heart. As I read the comments, they grabbed my heart as well. There are so many of us spread across the country who all feel the same way about trees. From Bonnie to Vic and from Susie to Vickie and all in between, we've all lived and loved our trees in the same way.

I never do this, mention an article I wrote while admiring and reading one written by another. But Leon is such a good friend I don't think he'll mind. I wish there were a way to link articles to each other but I'll do it this way because the two articles need to go hand in hand.

This was written for ATP several years ago and it's not one of my usual Aunt Bett articles but one that I think Leon will like and will see the connection. When you have time, maybe you could read it and see how connected we all really are:

http://garden.org/ideas/view/S...

Thank you Leon, so very much, and as I said, all the comments climbed right into my heart as well.
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Nov 1, 2015 10:09 AM CST
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Arturo, what beautiful words.
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Nov 1, 2015 10:20 AM CST
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
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hampartsum said:Gardening is for me not so much a place where I grow what I have or want, but rather a place where my prayers in gratitude become intimately true. I feel particularly blessed when something happens right ( in view of so much that can and usually does go wrong) . I'm always amazed at our Lord's mercy! Trees come and go, so do we, ...perhaps one leaves for those who follow a fleeting reminder of having toiled to leave a better place than that we found when just started, regardless the size or growth stage of trees. Others will pick up and hopefully do a better job than myself and... continue praying....

What a realistic and positive way to summarize a thought! And maybe the most important part is when you said, "perhaps one leaves for those who follow a fleeting reminder of having toiled to leave a better place than that we found..."

Also this, "I feel particularly blessed when something happens right ( in view of so much that can and usually does go wrong) ." I think we can all relate to that!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Arturo! Thumbs up
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Nov 1, 2015 10:45 AM CST
Name: Jeanie
Minnesota (Zone 4a)
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A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
-- Greek proverb
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Old gardeners never die. They are just pruned and repotted.
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Nov 1, 2015 10:46 AM CST
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
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Sharon said:Leon, what a wonderful article and one very close to my heart. As I read the comments, they grabbed my heart as well. There are so many of us spread across the country who all feel the same way about trees. From Bonnie to Vic and from Susie to Vickie and all in between, we've all lived and loved our trees in the same way.
I never do this, mention an article I wrote while admiring and reading one written by another. But Leon is such a good friend I don't think he'll mind. (It's my pleasure always! Smiling ) I wish there were a way to link articles to each other but I'll do it this way because the two articles need to go hand in hand.
This was written for ATP several years ago and it's not one of my usual Aunt Bett articles but one that I think Leon will like and will see the connection. When you have time, maybe you could read it and see how connected we all really are:
http://garden.org/ideas/view/S...
Thank you Leon, so very much, and as I said, all the comments climbed right into my heart as well.


Perfect! I'm over there now enjoying it, and the pictures too! And I am borrowing one of your ideas here from that post: "Trees matter, they really do. And what can we do? Well, we can be careful what we plant, where we plant, and when we plant. The ideal tree is in the eye of the beholder, but it also needs to be adaptable to the location in which it is planted. I can only speak for those that grow well here in my zone 7a, but I can tell you the best time to plant them. Right now in winter is the perfect time." I am also happy to see so much interest. Even though it is not winter many trees, including fruit trees can safely be planted in zones 5a/b also.
Even a fool, when he shuts his mouth, is counted (as being) wise.Proverbs 17:28
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Nov 1, 2015 10:58 AM CST
Name: Leon
Indiana (Zone 5a)
Light is the shadow of God!
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foraygardengirl said:A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
-- Greek proverb

How perfect! I was going to Google this earlier, but now you have it! Smiling
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Nov 1, 2015 1:35 PM CST
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River Twp, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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I was trying to think of that saying as well -- thanks for posting it, Jeanie!

When I was growing up in lower Michigan, way back in the 1950s and 60s, there was a huge -- like 3 feet in diameter -- elm tree in our back yard. That tree was like an old friend to me and I grieved when it had to be removed because of Dutch Elm disease. Leon, thanks for sharing this article that has obviously touched many of us!
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer
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Nov 1, 2015 5:09 PM CST
Name: Vickie
southern Indiana (Zone 6b)
Bee Lover Garden Photography Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: United States of America
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Wonderful words of wisdom, Arturo. And Sharon, your article touched on a very real problem in the world today.

Jeanie, thanks for adding the Greek proverb. We will be planting a tree for others to sit in its shade.
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
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Nov 7, 2015 7:18 AM CST
Name: Carol H. Sandt
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Zone 6b)
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Your excellent article and the thoughtful responses it evoked do so much to honor the stewardship of planting trees for future generations and enjoying the trees planted by others, sometimes in the distant past. In the 40 years I have lived in this old farmhouse, I have lost several mature old trees that once provided enough shade to make air conditioning unnecessary. They included two English walnuts (male and female so there were lots of nuts each fall) and four enormous Norway maples. I replaced them mostly with scarlet oaks whose shade will be enjoyed by future residents, but not me. Trees do indeed remind me that I am just a steward of this place, tasked with the responsibility of making it as welcoming as possible for future generations, as you have emphasized.

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