MERRY CHRISTMAS TREE – Christmas 2022 – Memorial Tree Update

Memorial Tree – before and after pruning

The Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park is certainly no Christmas Tree, but did happen to get its annual dormant pruning yesterday, which was Christmas Eve.

All of the redwoods that were installed intentionally within the refined landscape of Felton Covered Bridge Park (excluding any wild redwoods) are Memorial Trees for specific people. The solitary sweetgum is a Memorial Tree for a specific French bulldog. The solitary valley oak, which is pictured above, was originally a Memorial Tree for a specific person as well, but became a collective Memorial Tree for a few friends of the originally memorialized and the local Community. The subsequently memorialized passed away within only a few years of the installation of this Memorial Tree, and some were unhoused at the time.

Although the young Memorial Tree grew well since last winter, and is therefore a bit larger, it was pruned less than last year. It simply did not grow as much as it did during the previous year, and did not generate as much superfluous growth. Only a few lower stems were removed to maintain minimal clearance for pedestrians and parking spaces, including a parking space for vehicles used by handicapped people (which requires slightly more than eight feet of vertical clearance). A few more upper stems that developed awkward structure were also removed. So were vigorous stems that would have been likely to compete with more desirable and better directed stems. No growth yet extends over the driveway, but the trajectory of growth that extends in that direction suggests that minimal clearance of fourteen feet will be easily maintained as growth eventually extend that far.

The stabilizing stake is likely unnecessary, but will remain until next winter. By that time, it should be more obviously unnecessary. The trunk remains slightly more pliable than it should be, most likely as a result of previous binding. Contrary to prediction last year, the embarrassing brace between the two lowest limbs will also remain, perhaps as long as the stake. To limit bark disfigurement, it will be adjusted between spring and summer. The mesh cage around the base of the trunk can be removed at any time, so will likely be removed after the last weed whacking procedure of summer. Weed whackers should no longer be a threat to the maturing lower bark.

This may be the last dormant pruning procedure for this young Memorial Tree. After the stake, brace and mesh cage are removed, it should require no additional seasonal attention. Subsequent pruning to maintain clearance can be performed when convenient for the arborists who perform such procedures, which may not necessarily be during winter dormancy, and may not be necessary again for a few or even several years.

Although I know that the basal bark will be resilient to weed whackers, I may continue to remove weeds from around the trunk, so that there will be no need for weed whackers to get close to it. Also, I may apply fertilizer if foliation begins prior to the end of the rainy season, and perhaps subsequently in conjunction with supplemental irrigation, if I continue to occasionally irrigate through the warmest weather of summer. Realistically though, the Memorial Tree needs no more assistance.

There‚Äôs No Place Like Home

Some of us do not get out much. Perhaps the expense is unjustifiable or prohibitive. Perhaps work is too demanding. There are as many reasons for not getting out and about as there are for doing so. We all know that it can be fun, relaxing and healthy. We must also be realistic.

Realistically though, many or most of us realize that we happen to be in the best place that we could be in. Otherwise, we would be somewhere else that is perceived to be better. This is why those who indulge in vacations in other places return afterward. Not only is this home, but it is an excellent home. After all, many other people come here from elsewhere for their vacations.

Yes, this is biased, since most believe that their particular home is the best place to be. Most people who inhabit Los Angeles actually believe that they are in the best place to be; which is fortuitous, since millions of people searching for someplace better could cause this region to become unpleasantly crowded. Obviously, we tend to believe that there is no place like home.

Yet, regardless of obvious bias, it is impossible to deny that, besides being the best place for those of us who live here, this really is among the most excellent places in the entire Universe. The climate is perfect, with just enough winter without too much chill, just enough summer without too much heat, plenty of sunny weather, and only mild storms within a brief rainy season. Scenery is exquisite, with grand redwoods and the coast of the Pacific Ocean nearby. Society is remarkably diverse, accommodating and generous. There are too many advantages to being here to list. Even those who lack domestic situations know how fortunate we are to be here.

December 22, 2021 – Memorial Tree Update

before and after pruning

Winter pruning happens in, well, winter, which began with the solstice on December 21. The little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park got pruned and groomed on the day after, which was December 22. It was already sufficiently dormant for the process. I did not want to delay it any longer than necessary.

Lower stems were removed both to improve minimal clearance for pedestrians, and to direct growth upward next year. Growth had gotten obtrusively low through summer; but pruning was delayed until dormancy. A few more of the unobtrusive lower stems that are substantial enough to compete with desirable upper growth may be pruned away later. Smaller lower stems will likely subordinate to more vigorous upper growth, even if not pruned away later. Only a few stems that crossed over primary limbs were removed, but probably did not need to be, since they likely would have eventually subordinated.

Binding of the main trunk was finally removed. The tree was bound from the beginning because it was so young, with irregular structure. As it matured, taller new binding stakes replaced the shorter old binding stakes, to straighten and direct the main trunk. Although the main trunk was sufficiently tall to not require binding last year, it remained bound for straightness.

Binding is typically performed while trees are developing in nurseries, so that trees do not need binding once installed into landscapes. Such procedures are performed by nurserymen, but neither arborists nor gardeners. I was therefore pleased to remove the binding from the landscape. However, and embarrassingly, because growth had been so vigorous through last year, two main limbs were temporarily bound to direct their growth away from each other! They would otherwise develop a detrimentally narrow and consequently structurally deficient branch union. Their binding should be removed next winter.

Although the binding stake was removed, a stabilizing stake was replaced, and should remain until next winter, and might remain, perhaps with minor adjustment, until the winter afterward if necessary. Because the stabilizing stake is coincidentally directly behind the tree trunk in the picture, it is not visible. A larger and older wooden stake that broke at the base, but remained attached between the tree trunk, binding stake and newer stabilizing stake through most of last year, after the newer stabilizing stake was installed, is now gone.

The little Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park is doing quite well.