Wednesday, December 29, 2010


We planted a bunch of trees. Actually, I say "we," but I actually mean Stumper Landscaping, the little mom and pop operation that has taken our singular request for sprinklers into a full-fledged front yard makeover.

But before we look at the trees we planted, I want to take a look back — pay homage, really — to the trees we removed from our property. I think they are worth documenting if for no other reason than their sheer weirdness. If trees were beauty queens, neither of the ones we removed would be a Miss America. But one of them was an arborial wonder so odd that it even stumped the Stumper, our landscaper, Bill. He — and just about every landscaping professional and non-professional alike — said he had never seen anything quite like the Chinese Elm that the previous owners of our property had trained to grow over the chicken wire fence that surrounded the property. If you look at the pictures below, you can see how the thing — at least a branch of the thing — had woven its way like a vine through the fence.

I was a little sorry to part with this tree because with its great height it provided a modicum of privacy to the master bedroom on the second floor. But I have to say, once it was gone I was pleased with the change. The tree was simply planted too close to the house. The roots were growing under our front entryway and generally shrouding the area around our front door in shade and darkness. The zombie branch thing was weird and the variety of tree very common — nothing really special or worth saving. It just had to go. Here is a look at our house pre-tree removal:

That is not a hedge, it's a branch.

My camera was out of batteries on the day I took these shots, so I just snapped a bunch with my phone.

That last tree is actually an ornamental pear that was right at the edge of the property. There was nothing really weird about it except that it was planted too close to the sidewalk, but other than that it was just untamed and scraggly and just your run-of-the-mill eyesore. It too had to go.

Since we removed the trees we've actually done quite a lot of work on the yard. (Again, we being Stumper Bill.) We took out an entire dumpster full of soil, weeds and debris that had collected on the property over decades. We flattened and graded and laid weedblocker. We built a retaining wall at the corner to give shape to an area that will soon be a seating area.

And we planted trees. Here they are:

Dodonea Viscosa Purpurea
(Hopseed Bush)

Ornamental Plum

Pomegranate Wonderful
(Crape Myrtle)
Willow tree
Eureka Lemon tree, came with a couple lemons already on it

(Pink Trumpet)
on the parkway

The willow again, with 2-year-old Blaise.

They may not look like much now, when it's the dead of winter, but I am thrilled to know I don't have to go through another spring and summer with nothing green to show for it. I so look forward to seeing these things grow, take shape and bloom over the months to come.