A maple and the ice storm

There are undeniable benefits to living at the forest’s edge, but today I’m not so enthused about living in close proximity to towering swamp red maples and tulip poplars. A portion of the garden is tucked beneath the shade of these tall trees, and after last night’s ice storm the ground is littered with branches. This is not at all unusual, and after any summer storm there will be a similar number of branches that fall.

As I sipped coffee early this morning I could hear snapping and popping from just outside the kitchen window, but the dawn was dark and gloomy so that I couldn’t see the source of the commotion. At first light I ventured out, and was pleasantly surprised that damage from the storm was limited to a few willows in the thicket that borders the garden. These suffered substantially, and I removed a few branches that had fallen onto the street before digging a path through the ice so that I could climb the sloped driveway to head off to work.Nandina covered by ice

Long stems of shrubs and Japanese maples were bent to the ground, but this has happened many times before, and I’ve found that once the ice (or snow) melts the branches usually spring back after a few days (sometimes a bit longer). Several years ago a twenty inch snowfall buried plants for a few weeks so that some never regained their shape, but I expected the ice to melt in a few hours, and that with an hour or two of clean up the damage would be quickly forgotten.Icicles on nandina

Roads were fine, so I settled in to catch up from a week out of the office. And then my wife called, which is unusual, and most often is related to some minor catastrophe. But, her voice was calm as she relayed the story how she watched out the window as a large, ice covered tree from the forest’s edge bent, twisted, then slowly toppled over into the garden.Red maple damaged by ice storm

The fallen tree missed the house, barely, she said, but an old ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud in its path was crushed, and branches on one side of a ‘Burgundy Lace’ Japanese maple were broken. She did not report on the fate of the various camellias and aucubas in the vicinity, but I assumed these would also suffer. Oh well, these things happen. In recent years other treasured trees and shrubs have suffered misfortune in extreme weather, and there’s no more to do than clean up and repair the damage and move on.

Knowing that the house had escaped damage, I finished my day at the office, but ended a bit early so that I could survey the destruction before dark. The side garden is now a jumble of branches. It’s difficult to tell the branches of the fallen maple from the redbud, or the Japanese maple, though I can see that several camellias beneath the debris can possibly be salvaged.Maple damaged in ice storm

With the garden still being covered by a layer of ice, and a light snow on the way, the clean up will have to wait, probably until the weekend. The chain saws will be put to good use, and certainly there will  be a mountain of firewood and kindling. The redbud is a lost cause, but it was weakened by encroaching shade in recent years, so its loss is not so tragic. I expect that the vigorous Japanese maple will be lopsided for awhile, but it should quickly grow to fill the injured area.

There will be one less maple to shade the garden, but the loss will hardly be noticed, I suspect. This is only one of many dozens of trees that border the garden, and fortunately this one was just far enough away to miss the house. After the damaged tree is removed I’ll take a look at what’s needed to repair the Japanese maple, and then later there will be a decision how to fill the void left when the squashed redbud is removed. It could have been worse.

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