Look what I came home to this week...
Yes, a stonking great big pile of beautifully aromatic woodchips, blocking my driveway. How so?
Recently I had to have a very large tree cut down, in order to avoid a neighbourly dispute. The tree, which my parents identified as a lily-pily, was huge, going upwards to the sky. Taller than my house, dense and dark. Birds roosted in it and chattered away as day drew to a close; it cast cool shadows over the house during the summer. It wasn't a beautiful tree, but it was a tree.
After I was asked to cut it down - I shan't go into the reasons or the situation, but friends, let me tell you, I cried. For days - every time I left the house for work and passed the tree; every time I came home and passed the tree; every time I thought about it, I would cry. I would go to bed and my thoughts would return to that tree, and I would cry. I didn't plant this tree, but it was a tree, an old tree, a living tree, and I mourned its oncoming demise.
I get very emotionally attached to my plants. I suspect it's because I have no pets or children; instead I transfer my love and care to the things I grow. Some trees, like the avenue of seven birch trees that my father helped me plant, or my new plum tree, mean infinitely more to me than any possible human (except my parents). The pink zepherine rose bush that my parents bought me a couple of years ago: when half of it got snapped away in some dreadful winds a few months ago, i came inside and heartily cried for its damage. Work might be frustrating, taxes and bills stressful, but the loss of any green thing in my garden will upset me dreadfully.
As quickly as possible, my dad organised G, an arborist who removed or cut back fire-damaged and dangerous trees for dad after the bushfires. I've met G a couple of times, so knowing him made me feel comfortable and reassured that my tree would be in good hands.
So one afternoon, G arrived, and over the course of a couple of hours, reduced the tree by about two-thirds its original height - it's now probably about two metres high, perhaps not even that. It was fascinating watching G work, especially towards the end when he was trying to shape the remaining bare trunks as best as possible. The difference between an arborist and a tree feller he told me, was that an arborist cares about the tree; a tree feller cares about the people. I liked that - I knew that we would meet my neighbours' demands but that my tree's life and health were his first priority; that it would be in good hands and would hopefully reshoot come spring; that these bare stumps may flourish back to life, green and happy.
G would cut down the tall limbs; when safe to do so, I dragged them away and hauled them in two piles on either side of my driveway. He remarked that I was a hard worker, but honestly, would I stand there and just watch someone work? I'm not strong by any means, but I like doing 'yard work' and it made me feel useful.
A few short days later, as promised, G came around while i was at work and reduced the stacks of leafy limbs to this pile of fine leafy woodchip. It was actually very exciting - I mean, what gardener doesn't like mulch? For me, it was the silver lining in the whole affair: I may have had to cut down a tree, but i could use its wood and goodness around my garden. There's a lot of light and warmth coming into the house now - great at this darkening time of year; though we'll see what that means in the hotter months next summer. And I've cleared out all the rubbishy plants that were beneath; I'll keep it clean and bare save for a lot of daffies and jonquils and grape hyacinths that need little attention but are so cheerful.
So, you know what I've been doing lately: shovelling and barrowing the woodchip out of the driveway. My biceps and back are groaning, and there's been copious cups of tea to power me thru. But something good has come from a distressing situation.
Below, the woodchip pile plus the cut down tree at left