The Willow Tree Comes Down

– Posted in: Garden chores

This year seems to be a year for storms–from January snow storms that take down huge swaths of pine trees to summer thunderstorms which also take down trees. On the fourth of July there was a violent rainstorm that took out the power in our area for four hours. We weren’t at home then, but this Monday we had another fierce storm. Actually, we had two. The first came in around 6:00 PM and the second about the middle of the night.

The first storm blew over our huge willow tree in the back yard.

Yes, indeed. The towering willow tree that was a fixture of the backyard since before we moved in came down in one swift fall. The fact that it went was no surprise to anyone. The tree was rotting out in the middle and had been leaning severely for the longest time. The only question was when it would fall, and what would it fall on. The tree was so big, and leaning so badly, it was a hazard to cut down, and also a tree we really didn’t want to cut down because it was leaning in the direction of one of our fully grown apple trees.

The tree was leaning, and fell, away from the house, for which we are very glad. The sad part is that it didn’t entirely miss the apple tree. The willow tree rose like a giant over this apple tree and when it came down it did not kindly turn aside. It wasn’t a direct hit, but the glancing blow was enough to smash and maul about a quarter of the top of the apple tree, and one of the main lower limbs was pinned to the ground.

Stepping back and being very cool and analytical, I can say the situation could have been much worse. The apple tree did not take a direct hit from the mega-ton beast and end up squashed flat. The tree was grazed, and as such it will probably survive with some drastic, or maybe not quite so drastic, pruning. That would be the analysis if I were very cool and intelligent about the matter. As it was, when I went out and saw the little green apples scattered everywhere, and the mauled condition of the tree, I wanted to run around in a circle shouting “Why me? Why me?”

The most disturbing damage for the tree was the large swath of bark ripped from the top upper section of the trunk, and the fact that when the willow landed on the lower apple tree limb it fell with such force it lifted some of the apple tree roots from their resting place, creating a huge bulge in the earth.

It all looked very grim for the apple tree, intelligent thoughts disregarded.

Since the willow was still lying on the lower limb of the apple tree, it was important that the willow be cut up as soon as possible. Original plans for Tuesday were thrown aside, and I ended up spending several hours improving my chain saw skills, slicing and dicing up the willow tree.

The willow tree wood was very wet, and this made the saw bind up some, but the wood was also very soft, so over all it cut easy. The thickest cut I had to make was 28 inches–the base of the tree was actually wider but half was rotted away–which is a fair sized diameter, I think. To a skilled saw handler this would have been a “nothing” job. I’m not a suave chainsaw master, so by the end of my labors I felt like I had earned a pair of woodsmen stripes for completing the job.

Now I need to haul all the wood up to the burn pile so I can mow the lawn which really needs mowing.

About the Author

At age fifteen, Rundy decided he wanted to write for his living. He is currently working on a novel, although it is not the novel he started at fifteen. When not working on the novel, he might be riding his bike, feeding his chickens, helping his neighbors, messing around with web design and computers in general, or writing on his blog, which discusses other topics in addition to gardening. USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 AHS Heat Zone: 3 Location: rural; Southern Tier of NY Geographic type: foothills of Appalachian Mountains Soil Type: acid clay Experience level: advanced beginner Particular interests: fruits, vegetables, major landscaping, chickens and other poultry

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Arlan July 29, 2003, 8:15 pm

The willow tree was kind of sad, but it was much worse when the stately maple in the front yard came down. Not 100% sure what got that. Probably the fact that it was an extremely high traffic lawn and we’d had some dry summers didn’t help.

As Rundy said then, trees die as a matter of course all the time. You just don’t notice when they’re all packed into a forest.

But all our landmarks are coming down. . .the old barn, the maple, the willow. How the mighty have fallen!

Linda July 26, 2003, 11:05 pm

I’m really sorry about both your willow and your apple trees. It’ll leave such a big hole in your landscape. We lost our 200+ year old elm to Dutch elm disease last week, and I still can’t bear to look out the window.