Bidding Adieu to the Beech
According to the dictionary, “adieu” means a fond, but final farewell. About two weeks ago, I learned that I would have to say just that – adieu – to a huge, mature beech tree that defines my front yard, and around which much of it has been designed. I’m still in shock, but am trying to see this as an opportunity as well as a loss. A new chapter in my life, so to speak. (My younger son has assured me that whatever I do with the space, he’s sure it will be “masterful,” a touching but daunting tribute). As it turned out, things moved fast. So herewith, a tribute to my American beech (Fagus grandifolia).As best as I can tell, this tree was planted some time after our house was built in 1941. It had already been limbed up as shown in the photo above when we moved in during 1988. Until I became a landscape designer, I didn’t know what it was – or appreciate its glory. When I redesigned the front yard in 2001, I had it uplit. Unfortunately, about two years ago I began to notice dieback here and there in the upper branches. Dead or weakened sections would break off during storms and drop down into the yard. An arborist I trust diagnosed the tree as having hypoxylon cankerand said the beech had 5 -15 years left to live depending on whether I wanted to invest heavily in treatments that would extend its life but still have its large trunk dying off section by section. I decided against the treatments and hoped to get five good years out of it. It wasn’t to be. The week before Mother’s Day, by which time the beech had fully leafed out for the spring, I noticed the dieback was worse. Then Pepco, our local energy provider (which has been getting lots of criticism for less than average performance restoring power when electricity goes out in our area), decided to catch up on its clearance pruning and proposed taking out a huge section of the tree that was hanging over power lines. They admitted I had taken good care of it and that it “wouldn’t be pretty” when they finished their work. I called in my arborist, who pointed out the tree’s decline would be hastened by the pruning. The result: Pepco would take the tree down, all the way down, at their cost. I tried to look at the bright side: saving HUGE bucks. More time to get a new tree going. The beech, my arborist gently said, was in rapid decline at this point and probably had at most another two years before it would be completely dead. I had the lighting removed, called Pepco, and was appalled when they arrived the very next day (Tuesday of this week). The crew was very professional and careful. Still, in the end, it was a sad sight. I’m trying not to fret about the huge amounts of sunlight now pouring onto all my shade-tolerant plantings as the summer approaches. I still have to have the stump ground out, find a new tree (I’m leaning towards a Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii,’ less prone to Hypoxylon and with very nice coppery leaves in summer – providing I can find it), and determine the best time to plant it. But it feels as though there has been a death in the family, in the meantime. I’m sure those of you who love trees will understand. Explore posts in the same categories: landscape comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.