Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Making the sidewalk safe again for NE Portland pedestrians…

Many a time I’ve bemoaned the fact our street trees, a pair of Styrax japonica, weren’t great choices. All it takes is this photo from June of 2011 to tell you why…

Branches heavy with wet blossoms completely block the sidewalk. After the flowers fell the common name "snow bell" became all the more appropriate as the sidewalk looks to be covered with snow (creating a very slick surface).

Since we inherited these trees I have no way of knowing what they looked like when planted. I can tell you two of our neighbors have the same trees but theirs are growing tall and narrow, while ours are the shorter wider version. This is what they looked like in January...

Beautiful trees really, if they were in a garden, but not the shape desired for a narrow parking strip.

We’d occasionally trimmed them up to the best of our limited ability, but it was finally time to bring in a professional. But how do you know you’re getting someone who will bring out the best in your trees, even structurally challenged ones like ours? Instead of just hacking away at them and sending you a bill?

Well lucky us because we actually had someone that we trusted volunteer to do the job! Yes my hydrangea adopting neighbor Bridget claims pruning is one of her very favorite things to do, and watching her work on that (thankfully sunny) afternoon in February, I believe her.

Plus by working with her I got to learn a thing or two about the process, while Andrew delighted in sawing and chopping (who knew he'd find an excuse to climb such a short tree?).

Our trees were so dense with tiny twig growth there was a lot of work to be done just to open them up.

Knowing my low-tolerance for ugly things in the garden Bridget had warned me they might be a bit awkward at first and take time to grow into their new shape. I was prepared, but actually they looked great right away, she really brought out the best possible version of these trees.

Sure there are a few ugly scars that call attention to themselves, but those will fade with time.

And it was so nice to watch people walk down the sidewalk and not have to duck!

Now that they’re starting to leaf out it’s obvious just how much material was removed.

The leaves are so high, they actually have visible branches! (the tree on the right (below) has always been the runt; it doesn’t have a strong leader and is a little aesthetically challenged…)

But this is the best it’s looked in a long time!

Go ahead Portland; it’s safe to walk down our side of the street again (just don’t trip and fall on the agaves)…

And thank you Bridget for whipping our crazy trees into shape!

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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