This is the best season so far! Because this is the first update on this blog, there is nothing here to compare the progress of this small Memorial Tree to; but links to older updates on another blog can be found at the older (reblogged) article, ‘May 2‘. Some of those updates link to even more updates. This little Memorial Tree has had quite a history in Felton Covered Bridge Park.
It is actually the fourth tree in this particular spot. The original black oak was run over by a car many years ago, leaving the site vacant for a long time. An Eastern red cedar was planted on New Year’s Day in 2013, but later the following summer, succumbed to what dogs do to small trees. A bigleaf maple was planted the following winter, but also succumbed in its second year.
In the last few years since then, this little valley oak has contended with major difficulties too. Until recently, it had been gouged regularly by weed eaters when the weeds around it were cut down, even though we regularly pull the weeds around it so that the weed eater does not need to get so close. Before it could recover from getting gouged, it got gouged again, several times!
This is why it is still so puny. Every year, it puts out only a few inches of new growth. In fact, that is how it started out this year, with only a few inches of new spring growth that blinded out too early in the season. Then, for no apparent reason, it put out a second phase of summer growth, with an abundance of vigorous shoots that are about a foot long! This is very encouraging.
Although still puny, the little Memorial Tree is exhibiting the sort of resilience and vigor that it needs to survive in this less than optimal situation. As the bark of the lower trunk matures, it will be less susceptible to damage caused by weed eaters. As the tree grows up and above pedestrian traffic, the limbs will be less susceptible to breakage. The next few years will be critical.
No more growth is expected this late in summer, although the small new leaves will likely continue to expand for a while. Terminal buds are likely in the process of blinding out for the year. When the tree is dormant and defoliated in autumn, lower limbs will get pruned away, and the main trunk will get bound and staked. There will be no rush, as long as it is done before spring.
The picture above shows how long the new growth is. The picture below shows how this new growth looks on the small tree. The picture at the bottom shows how much smaller the tree was not too long ago. It also shows that weeds are pulled around the tree.