One of two Alaskan cedars (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) is distressed, now the second year this is noted, and perhaps the decades old tree will not be around for much longer. While diagnosis is not a simple matter, I suspect the cedar has been too shaded for too long. Branches on the shadier side have been bare for years, and now the less shaded side is fading. I blame this on a reasonable expected lifespan, and not as an error in judgment in planting where the evergreen would eventually fail. So much for excuses.
The Alaskan cedar was once planted with exposure to morning and afternoon sunlight, with a shady midday respite. But, as the garden and the forest bordering the garden have grown, the hours of sun have diminished, and now there is only a brief late afternoon period of filtered sunlight.
I am reluctant to chop anything out of the garden, but I’m aware that the sooner this eyesore is gone, something more attractive can take its place. And, here is the problem.
My wife mentions that she feels trapped (not by me), with the view into the garden obscured by this large evergreen. And, it is. So, she will not be pleased when it is replaced, by anything, even such a marvelous choice as the Korean Sweetheart tree (Euscaphis japonica, below).
Today, the Sweetheart tree grows contentedly in a container on a patio, but of course, this was intended to be temporary. Sooner than later, the tree would grow too large, and though it will be a bit small from the start, I believe the Sweetheart tree is ideally suited to this spot in part shade. I expect the tree will not make much of an impact from the start, and no doubt my wife will learn to love it long before it grows to obstruct the open view into the garden.
The only open issue is, do I remove the tall Alaskan cedar, or bring someone in to do it for me? I am concerned about damaging the surrounding garden, both if I take the tree down and it falls on the house, or the nearby arbor, or if a crew comes in and stomps on tiny treasures scattered beneath the tree. There’s no good answer, but the least risky is to hire someone for this project and accept the possible losses.