My house and garden are situated in a valley of sorts between tall hills and bordered to the south by a strip of towering maples and tulip poplars. The land sits low enough that strong winds often whistle through the tree tops, but the garden below is somewhat protected from the worst of it. But, this depends on the wind direction and other influences that I have yet to figure out. In this summer’s derecho, strong winds blew in directly from the west, which is relatively unprotected by mature trees, and the garden suffered the full brunt of the gale (with considerable damage).
In this week’s hurricane the garden (and house) escaped with very minor damage (no worse than the typical summer thunderstorm), with broken branches of poplars and maples littering the forest’s edge, but little other evidence of the storm except for the sudden absence of foliage on trees. Neighboring properties were not so fortunate.
One neighbor lost two large pines that fell to block the driveway and part of the road, and next door two Bradford pears were nearly leveled by the storm. The Bradfords have suffered in past storms, and now it seems that the trees have finally reached their end. The flowering pears are soft wooded with branching that is quite susceptible to wind damage so that homeowners in most areas have moved away from planting them in recent years. With violent storms more frequent it will not be long until pears have vanished from the local landscape.
Late last week the autumn foliage display of local maples and hickories was at its peak, but leaves were quickly blown away before the worst of the winds began. Most of the large trees that suffered in the storm were evergreens or oaks that hold onto foliage late into the autumn. On the road just beyond my little neighborhood a tall oak fell to block both lanes, and in the other direction a pine blocked the street until someone cut off the top so that one lane was passable.
Fortunately, most of what I’ve seen in this part of northwestern Virginia is inconvenience rather than tragedy. Electricity remains out in only a few isolated areas, but most homes lost power for only a short while during the peak of the storm. I’ve heard reports of shingles blown off and leaky roofs, and Leyland cypresses blowing crooked, but happily there’s not much else to report from this part of the world.