Going vertical. But why?

If I had the stomach for it, I would keep track of the time I spend every year trimming back this tree and seven others like it. Four are parked rightupnextto the house; the others are in front of a fence. It’s pretty obvious that the previous owner—let’s call her Betty—wanted vertical elements in these spots. Along the house, they make a certain amount of sense, because they break up an otherwise extremely dull expanse of siding. But couldn’t she have picked something that would’ve been vertical and a little less labor-intensive?

Our first summer here, I puzzled over these things for a long time, trying to figure out how to prune them. There is no central trunk; rather, there are dozens of stems, most of them dead, around which Betty apparently painstakingly threaded and twined the shoots of new growth. The trunks—for want of a better term—are tangled and interwoven in a way that is utterly confounding. And since most of the wood in the middle is dead, the new shoots tend to flop over, making a godawful mess that is absolute hell to cut back. I never know where to start. And it’s such a big job (the by-the-house trees were already above the soffits in mid-May) that I can never manage to cut all the trees in a single day, which means they never match. Something’s always too short, too sparse, or too overgrown.

This year I decided on draconian measures and just cut the hell out of them, lopping all of them from 10-12 feet down to about 6. I finished the last one, shown above, this afternoon. Yes, it looks sparse. But so did its brothers around the corner when I hacked them back less than a month ago. And just look at ’em now:

They already need trimming again. Feh!

To add insult to injury, when I came inside to recuperate, I felt a bug crawling on my neck. I brushed it away, and it fell right into my cleavage—never a good thing. I fished it out and it fell into our plush new carpet, where it burrowed like a mother. I finally extracted it, with some difficulty…and it was a Japanese beetle. I’d noticed holes in the tree’s leaves when I was trimming but didn’t think much about it, because frankly I just don’t care. Stupid high-maintenance tree.

So now I have a dilemma: Try to get rid of the beetles, or just let nature take its course? I know, I know: Japanese beetles + landscape plants = bad. But I’m telling you, it’s extremely tempting to just stand back and let the dominant species win.

Posted on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 at 8:57 pm. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are 7 comments on this post.

  1. Thomas says:

    Was reading back issues and found this gem.

    Picking raspberries is an exercise in patience, not one of my top-tier traits.

    Now there is an understatement!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted at July 5th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

  2. tt says:

    Well, guess I can’t argue with you since I’ve already outed myself, but jeeze, you used an awful lot of exclamation points.

    Posted at July 5th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

  3. susan says:

    So, what kind of “tree” is that? Seems more shrub-like.

    Posted at July 7th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

  4. Thomas says:

    I was only saluting a master (mistress) of impatience.

    Posted at July 8th, 2010 at 11:38 am

  5. Sue says:

    Is it an actual tree? I thought you didn’t want trees too near your foundation, because of the damage the roots can cause. That would be an excuse to get rid of them.

    Posted at July 8th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

  6. tt says:

    Sue, I don’t have a clue what it really is. Some of the central, older trunky-stemmy things are about an inch across, though, whatever that means. Next time we have tree guys out, I’ll ask them for their advice. We have so many trees (undisputed ones) that dealing with the tree guys is going to be an annual event.

    Posted at July 8th, 2010 at 4:03 pm

  7. Vickie says:

    next time you are oxoford drive, check out my neighbor two doors down..she had a line of these on her property line..planted them so she would not have to look at her neighbors’ yard…she has since moved, but they are tall and do block the view!

    Posted at July 11th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

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