Friday, July 13, 2007

RIP Shadblow, 2002-2007

I think I killed my tree.

I planted it, with lots of friendly help, on the drunken evening of my 30th birthday. The selection of the tree was far from dissipated, however: a good friend recommended the tree drawing on his training and experience as a landscape architect. It was a Shadblow Serviceberry, Amelanchier canadiensis. I bought it from a nursery the day before, and planting it was the climax of the evening. (That, and knocking the stuffing out of a monkey pinata.)

It was always the happiest little tree. Small, star-shaped blooms in the spring. Edible berries in the summer. Bright foliage in the fall. Architectural limbs in the winter. Thanks to its low situation, it always had wet feet and seemed to like it that way. It seemed to thrive ahead of other specimens I knew about: my landscape architect friend's Shadblow seemed slower to grow and slower to bloom, my sister's Shadblow is in relatively hostile New England; my co-worker's Shadblow had disease pressure.

But part of the landscape redesign we did of the backyard required me to relocate the tree to the opposite corner of the yard. Only 25 feet away, but still too far! We got a later start than I would have preferred, but it was still before Memorial Day (almost 5 years to the day since I planted it, in fact). Maybe the root ball I dug out was too small. Its roots were so happy where they were, I think I left a lot of them in their old spot. And maybe the day laborer who dug the hole for its new location did a lazy job of preparing a new home for it, while I wrestled with the rototiller just a few feet away. Or maybe I didn't soak its roots well enough during a week or two after which I though it had turned the corner.

I still hold out a little hope that our tree will survive the transplantation. Maybe this is just not its year. But I know from several years of tending to this tree that it sets its initial growth for the next year depends on the buds it sets in the previous year...and there are no new buds on its dessicated branches. Just brown leaves that are slowly falling off.

The Monkey himself is aware of the problem. He communicated the fact that he wanted to eat some berries off the tree. But looking at the dead tree, he said "No more." I told him how sad I was that the tree might be dead, and how much it meant to me. He gave me hug and a pat on the back.


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