Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The invasion of the Silver Maples

In pre 1999 photos of our house, our actual house view would be obscured by an enormous silver maple. It was a pretty tree with its silvery bark and bright yellow leaves in the fall but it was evil. There is a rule of thumb about silver maples: whatever you see above ground, there is twice of it below ground. The only tree more invasive in these parts would be a willow.The roots found their way into both our sanitary and storm sewer systems necessitating an expensive replacement and our whole front yard dug up. And those pretty leaves? In the fall, our yard would be inches thick in them. We'd rake and a new layer would quickly form. The tree had to go. I had to listen to some whining on how could I kill such a pretty tree? I would tabulate to them the costs from pipe replacement (with lots of plumber trips for slow drains before the actual solution) to lawn replacement. Thousands. The tree guy would charge almost as much to remove the stump as cutting the tree so I let it stand covering it with soil from our patio excavation turning it into my rock garden. For a while, enormous woody fungi would pop up from the decaying stump but I think it is gone. The roots are gradually returning to soil as judged by my other plantings thriving.

But no the story did not end. This tree had babies! I do spend a lot of time killing maple saplings. But there were a few in back that escaped my attention and are now too big for me to kill. I have three other maples that I have allowed to live, one being a city tree. I thought the city maple was a Norway maple but I was told the other day that it is really a sugar maple. Now Norway maples are considered invasive and cities will or should not plant them. I have a red maple and another with large dark green leaves that don't fall until after Thanksgiving. The three of them are very slow growing whereas these babies are now taller though not as wide.They kill my good trees such as the spruces.

We called the tree guy in the other day to deal with the storm damage of last month to our flowering crab and our huge locust. He will take out all the silver maple that are on my actual property along with these  nasty buckthorns. We have an easement between our property and the bike path that isn't clear which trees are my responsibility. Our survey is no help.We were hoping this would all be done yesterday. The boys were on hand to witness the destruction, they love construction and destruction. But it was storming where the tree people are located even though it just drizzled here for  a bit so they didn't come. Today is out too as it is pouring out. I want it done before the trees get leaves.

Near our house is a stand of ancient sugar maples that the city has turned into a park: Sugarbush Park. Why people would call huge trees bushes is beyond me. Some of the trees are tapped by neighbors for its sap. I guess I could tap our city tree.

Where I stayed in Abruzzo amid parkland, the park rangers (who gave us a talk) were especially proud of their trees, rare in southern Italy. Hmmph! I have bigger trees in my backyard I thought and just a few blocks away, the huge sugar bushes whose roots I tripped over trying to run in shade a few years back. And the Black Forest in Germany has nothing over the miles and miles of pine in Northern Michigan that I biked through last summer. Next week, I go to Northern California where the chief invader is the eucalyptus tree planted because it grows so fast in arid environments so maybe it might be useful to use for railroad ties. They are pretty too but not useful for lumber as it turned out and dangerous as its high oil content adds to the fire danger.

Another fun fact I learned yesterday other than why pirates wear patches, the existence of Frost Laws. These are delaying the completion of my daughter's house. During the spring and its freeze thaw cycle, some communities ban heavy trucks from their roads so not to increase the size of the potholes. Shanna's development is girded by these protected roads. Well they finally lifted the Frost Law, so let the building resume.

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