Storm Eleanor Jan 2018

We didn’t notice our latest victim of storm damage until a couple of days after storm Eleanor. The tree was a Western Hemlock conifer (Tsuga heterophylla) probably, over forty years old and sixty feet tall.

It was growing out of a stand of bamboo, Sasa palmata and the base of the trunk shattered with half of the bowl lifting and half remaining in the ground. It fell in an Easterly direction completely crossing over our right hand neighbours’ garden and going well into their right hand neighbours’ property.

In both gardens it lay across garden sheds without doing significant damage. Linda and I with some help from our neighbours managed to get it down from over the sheds without any further damage and to cut it up into portable, split-able lengths in one day.

Magnolia Stump Removal

Today we have removed the root bowl of the Magnolia. We used a technique we have used on other fair sized tree stumps in the past.

This involves leaving around four foot of trunk on the root bowl, and sawing it in half lengthwise as low as possible. Then using wooden wedges and logs driven in with a sledge hammer the root bowl is split in two.

We did this today without digging out the bowl by sawing the exposed half again lengthwise and splitting this in half again. We pulled each quarter away from the rest with a small hand winch.

The remaining half still attached to the ground was again sawn and split with wedges. The remaining quarters were winched out after a few roots were cut through with a root axe.

Devastating Doris

We went down the garden just before lunch today, to find a much loved old ‘Tree Magnolia’ horizontal, a victim of yesterday’s ‘Storm Doris’.

This larger growing form of the ‘Willow Leaved Magnolia, Magnolia salicifolia var.  arborea, was planted over forty years ago and was purchased from The Seville Garden.  It had reached approximately thirty five feet in height and was carrying hundreds of flower buds.

Although there were no outward signs of ill health, the root-ball was not as good as the top of the tree would have indicated. It fell into a neighbour’s garden and flattened a 6ft high chain link fence breaking two of its straining wires and bending a post. Fortunately there was a only a small amount of collateral damage in our garden in the form of half of a four foot high Japanese Maple being smashed off. If the wind had been Northerly it could have fallen on our Mandarin Arbour, but wouldn’t have reached our new bridge.

With our son Paul and another neighbour, Dave’s help, Linda and I managed to clear next door’s garden, shred the smaller branches and cut up the trunk into splitable lengths.

The storm also blew a bird feeder out of a shrub just outside our kitchen window, spilling the seed on the path. A field mouse is pictured below, taking advantage of the sudden windfall, in broad daylight (2.00pm).

Up Date to Saint Jude Storm Post.

As I suspected would happen, the Magnolia ‘Royal Crown which snapped off at about six feet, in the Saint Jude Storm, has re-grown with a vengeance. Some of the many shoots are now close to an inch thick and six feet tall. They have had very large leaves and I have been worried that some of the vigorous new growths might have broken out in strong winds, but so far so good. When all the leaves have fallen off, we will be able to see which of the many new shoots are best placed to form a new framework of trunks and branches to form a pleasantly shaped new tree. The remaining excessive growth will be cut off cleanly at the trunk or shortened back to form minor branches.  I am hopeful that the tree may produce flowers in the spring of 2016.

‘St Jude’ Storm – Sad Losses

We are sorry we had problems with the web site over three days, Tuesday to Thursday of this week. We have put it down to glitches in an updated piece of software.

Anyway, we did not escape unscathed from last Monday morning’s storm. One of our largest hybrid Magnolias, ‘Royal Crown’ broke off at about 10 feet up the trunk.

It was quite ironic as we had been saying there were going to be terrific new views of it from the ‘New Summer Garden’ next spring, following the removal of the old climber covered pear trees. The old trees would probably have blown over had they been there, but the Magnolia might have been protected, but we will never know!

It had many hundreds of flower buds and it has been quite sad shredding all the brushwood and cutting up the trunk and branches. However, in our experience with Magnolias, the remaining four foot of undamaged trunk will sprout vigorously next spring, and before too many years have passed we will get flowers again. It may take a while to get back to its previous dimensions of perhaps 30ft high by as much through, which is perhaps not a bad thing! There was some good news about the tree falling, in that not a single shrub underneath it was damaged significantly by its falling. In fact the very minor damage occurred mostly in the clear up, while cutting and dragging off the tree branches from out of a large Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’ and various Camellias and other shrubs.

The other tree blown completely out of the ground was a venerable cooking apple ‘Monarch’, planted by my father in the 1930s.

Apparently Monarch was preferred during the Second World War and after while sugar was rationed as less sugar is needed than with the Nation’s favourite cooking apple, ‘Bramley Seedling’. I know we prefer it of the two for flavour. Fortunately a couple of years ago I grafted a scion from it, onto a dwarfing root stock, just in case it were to succumb to disease etc.

The old tree had been covered with a substantial Climbing Hydrangea (H. petiolaris), and no doubt this was a major contributory factor to it being blown down. The hydrangea has come right out of the ground as well. We haven’t finished the clearing up of this one so don’t know the full extent of collateral damage of under planted shrubs but we think it may be worse than the insignificant damage of the bigger tree.

This is not the first tree to have been blown over because of the extra wind resistance of climbing plants supported by them. . A few years ago, we lost a completely healthy Prunus serrula in winter time when it had no leaves because of a large evergreen climber, Stauntonia hexandra which it hosted. The tree had been a fair size with a trunk close to a foot through.