16 January 2017
Change – inevitable? When you have an infestation of Emerald Ash Borer and the border of your garden with the highway is lined with 18 large (50-70′) ash trees, then the answer is “yes”. Such has been the case here. Three summers of late summer drought had weakened the trees such that when the infestation began it was devastatingly quick.
Last summer, the destruction was clear. Given that ash wood tends to become weak rather quickly after dying and that the trees had only two directions to go: onto the highway or into the garden, there was only one solution and the deed has been done. We now have a multi-year supply of potential firewood and endless possibilities for interesting, large, wood sculptures. This project has also drastically changed the appearance of the front of the garden. If you’ve been here before, you might be tempted to drive right past, not recognizing what had been the road-side identity of ‘Ashgrove’. The property was named such when moving here 16 years ago; I think perhaps it should now be changed to ‘Ashdown’, perhaps with an ultimate ‘e’. We’ll see.
Change of this magnitude works both ways. The trees were large and had originally been planted entirely too close together. In fact, at one time there were twice as many but every other one had been removed at some point or another with many of those continuing to sprout from the roots even decades later! If this continues, they will become – for awhile at least – an annual source of kindling.
I have always been amazed that the plants which were planted under these trees survived at all much less, in some cases, actually thrived.
Their development and the consequent possibile availability of new planting spaces without the serious competition the ashes provided should prove interesting at least. I recall digging some of the holes for these surviving plants, including many that were 20-30′ away, and removing a sufficiency of roots to create a whole new grove and thinking, “How in the world does anything else even grow here? The ashes seemed to be hogging all available nutrition and moisture.”
But grow they did; I hope they won’t be damaged by the shock of abundance!