The Memorial Tree in Felton Covered Bridge Park was not expected to survive damage inflicted by a vandal last June. However, it recovered with unexpected efficiency and vigor, at a time of year when growth should have been decelerating prior to autumn. It is as if the vandalism never happened.
After unsuccessfully attempting to poison the Memorial Tree with salt, the vandal sliced more than half way through the trunk in three places. The worst of these three slices is nearly healed. Another has already healed over. The third is so efficiently healed that the scar is barely visible.
A gardener who maintains Felton Covered Bridge Park installed a cage of chicken wire around the lower portion of the trunk to hopefully dissuade the vandal from attacking the Memorial Tree again. The trunk is sturdier and would be more resilient to such vandalism than it was last June.
Prior to the vandalism, the Memorial Tree had grown vigorously through spring, and was already decelerating its growth for summer, as is normal for the species within a natural habitat. By late summer, it would have been expected to concentrate resources into dormant terminal buds prior to defoliation through autumn and dormancy through winter.
Instead, the Memorial Tree responded to the vascular distress associated with the vandalism by suddenly and unexpectedly accelerating vigorous vegetative growth until it was compelled to decelerate by cooling autumn weather. Instead of producing such growth below the damage, as is typical, the determined little Memorial Tree expanded its developing upper canopy.
The Memorial Tree has recovered so efficiently that it will likely require only minor grooming while dormant through winter, to remove a few overly vigorous stems from the lower canopy. Minor stubble remains to promote trunk caliper development. The trunk may no longer need binding. The stabilizing lodgepole should remain for at least next year, even if it is unnecessary.
Members of the Community offered to replace the Memorial Tree after it was vandalized and not expected to survive. Fortunately, replacement will not be necessary. This little Memorial Tree has survived other forms of damage, and is determined to continue to survive and flourish.