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.

Frio de Ausencia

‘Cold of Absence’. That is the direct translation. Is sounds prettier in Spanish, perhaps alluringly exotic. In reality, it is a sad song of unrequited love, composed by Gali Galeano of Columbia in 1981. I knew none of that until I looked it up online a moment ago. I knew ‘Frio de Ausencia’ only as the name of a tired old Chevrolet on a farm I worked on after I graduated high school.

No one knows why it was named ‘Frio de Ausencia’. I asked. The name was painted in black letters across the front of the gray hood. It makes no more sense to me all these years later than it did then. I do miss it though. It was such a simple and somehow stylish old pickup, at a time when contemporary vehicles innately lacked such qualities. It did anything we needed it to do.

I went off to college and never saw Frio de Ausencia again. A young man whom I worked with, who was a few years older than I was at the time, took it with him when he relocated to Gilroy. Everyone else I worked with there that summer is now deceased. The farm was developed into a tract of homes, where many more people are now enjoying their respective place and time.

In this place and time, here and now, absence is something we often notice. It is not necessarily cold though. Over the years, some of us have relocated for employment or more comfortable domestic situations. Some of us who are still here are too busy with resumption of careers and domestic lifestyles to socialize like we did when we lacked to some degree in such obligations.

As much as we might miss our friends, and notice their absence, it is gratifying to know that they are generally much happier and healthier than they were before improving their respective situations. Such absence is a tolerable consequence of progress. As silly as it might seem to those unfamiliar with our society, we would rather notice their absence than enjoy their presence.

Apologies for the delay of posting an article this week. It became necessary to postpone the topic I started writing about.

Workday

Workday at Felton Presbyterian Church, from eight to noon on Saturday, July 27.

Yes, that was yesterday. I would have written about it earlier, and in time to plan for it; but I was just informed about it less than a day earlier, on Friday morning. Fortunately, plenty of parishioners attended and got quite a bit done. In the future, we will need to be more diligent about announcing the workdays at lunch on Tuesdays. Even though some of us who attended more regularly in the past are no longer here, there are newcomers.

The biggest project was the removal of those rotting benches on the northern half of the patio out front. The sturdy posts that supported them for all these years were surprisingly sound, and the last few needed to be pulled out by a pickup with a tow chain. It was a mess, but worth the effort. The benches on the western half of the patio are still intact, so will remain for now.

The flowering crabapple tree did not get the major pruning that it so desperately needs, because it happens to be right over where the benches were being removed. That project might get done separately from a workday, just because it would be in the way of other projects. ‘Workday‘ explains why it is so important. The smaller flowering crabapple tree will get only minor pruning while dormant next winter.

Only two low and minor limbs needed to be pruned away from the big catalpa tree that was supposedly getting too low over the parking lot. That tree, in the picture above, has really grown up nicely. It seems like only a few years ago when we were still considering removing it before it got too big and cumbersome. Another unhealthy and disfigured catalpa tree, that grew up with it just about twenty feet away, was pulled out back then.

Some of the low limbs of the cypress between the parking lot and the A&W got pruned out or groomed. That area has always been a mess, and needs more attention. The ivy on the lanai of Taylor hall also needs more attention, particularly since it was shorn to expose more of the internal problems yesterday. The hedges at the south end of the patio were shorn quite proficiently, and need nothing more for now.

The lily-of-the-Nile between the patio and parking lot needed nothing yesterday. I just took the picture below because they were still blooming like the Fourth of July. They were one of the more significant projects many years ago. When they needed to be removed from a home in Aptos, we dug, split, groomed and plugged them here, where they happily bloom now.