Thursday, May 10, 2012

A single snowflake can bend the leaf of the bamboo

wild asparagusWith only a few days remaining till our cross-country trek to Sweden, the alternating days of sunshine and rain have squeezed the available time for cleaning up the yard into frenetic bursts of lawn-mowing, weeding, seeding and soil preparation.  A bonus was the discovery of three asparagus plants growing wild by the pond in the shade of the willow trees. When I found them four days ago they were barely 30cm, and now two of them are over a metre tall.

The only work the pond itself seemed to need was some mowing around the edges, which I got out of the way yesterday.

A few hours after the mowing during which time we’d made a trip to the shops, I looked off the terrace to find that one corner looked wrong. When I went around to inspect I found that one of the large dead trees had fallen over while we were out.

My guess is that its rapidly growing garb of epiphytes had literally sent it over the tipping point, perhaps exacerbated by a gust of wind or a landing bird. From dead and proudly frozen in place, it went to dead and… despondant.
IMG_0839-42_stitch BEFORE removal
Photo: as found, the big tree is on the left, its shallow root mass now exposed. The tree to its right has had its trunk snapped, and when it fell the third domino was another sapling which went from vertical to an inverted U.
There was no question that it all had to be taken out ASAP – two younger trees had also been bent double or even snapped by the fall, the problem would only get worse if they were dragged in as the main mass sunk further. Plus the prospect of removing a few hundred kilos of soggy leaf matter from below water level come June doesn’t bear thinking about.
Pulling up submerged epiphytes  rotating the main tree trunk
When I got into the water I found that there was almost as much submerged as visible. I started sawing and hacking  - the old tree was so dead and dried out that sawing it was quite easy. Gustav helped me drag large chunks from the water while I felt around for stray branches. I thought the best action for the base of the large tree was to rotate it away from the near bank so it would just rot into the bank over time. Unfortunately it was too heavy and the pond floor gave me no traction to move it in that direction. I couldn’t saw it down further as that part had gotten too wet over night. We settled for pushing it the other way so it sat suspended in a angle over the corner of the pond. If there’s time and inclination, I’ll saw it down further before I leave; if not, at least it’s technically out of the water.

As we’ve caught up with warm weather in a great rush, leaping from teens to over 30C in a matter of days, it was quite pleasant being neck-deep in the pond. The only bad bit were the biting ants that living in the tree and swarmed over me while I dismembered their home.
IMG_0862-67_stitch AFTER removal

When we were done, a couple of hours later, a shortened version of the big tree has been pulled toward the bank, so that its trunk sits above the water line and will at least stay dry enough to saw. The centre tree has been trimmed down low and removed.

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