Both Beloved and I belong to the generation which has life-long ‘Saving’ with a capital ’S’ as part of their genetic makeup. We, that is me in particular, have in recent years been a little less dogmatic about the rainy day vision and the need for having a large umbrella to catch the inevitable downpour, and I have persuaded us to allow ourselves the really rather modest luxuries we indulge in; in other words, becoming skiers, spending the kids inheritance. All the same, just as well that the Boomer years have meant well for such as us, because the rains have started to fall in earnest.
On top of the newly necessary sums of money we need to spend on carers, assistance in house and garden, etc. the property itself is falling down around us. In the case of trees literally so.We had very high winds during the weekend and when Millie and I went for our morning walk on Monday we found a huge chunk had fallen out of the beech tree. As we are on the edge of the castle grounds this was cause for concern. Had somebody been walking in the moat at that precise moment they’d never walk again, they’d be dead. As it was the second time within a week that a branch had come adrift I thought I’d better call Jonathan, a proper, bona fide, letters-after-his-name arborist. First of all to remove the part-corpse from the path, secondly to cut it up and chip the unwanted bits, and thirdly to give me an idea of the state of the patient’s health or otherwise.
Jonathan hedged his bets. “Well, hm, I can see none of the funguses (fungi? or is that only for mushrooms?) associated with large trees. “ ( The beech is at least 70 feet tall - it’s massive). “On the other hand, there is some die-back which might indicate that the tree is stressed.” The tree is stressed? What about me? I am stressed just thinking about his hourly rate! “On the whole the limb sections look normal, it could just have been the high winds. Or mechanical weakness”. Deep breath out . “On the other hand. . . . .” Renewed intake of breath on my part. The noughts are simply tumbling into place following the initial figure, in itself a fearful thought!
We’ve left it that I keep a very close eye on developments and call him the minute I see anything untoward, like a white blob or a tarmac-like black blob on the stem near the ground. Mind you, Jonathan says, sometimes these blobs come out and immediately withdraw into the tree again, like they are some delicate violet shrinking away from the light of day.
A definite help, that.
This is the third and last of our large trees threatening imminent departure. We’ve lost the sycamore and the horse chestnut to a deadly fungal disease, I really don’t want the beech to go as well. It’s also the last of the beeches, there were three originally, two before our time; we have merely the stumps left, one of which has thrown up a large new limb which might not be viable for long, coming from a diseased parent plant. We still have more normal sized trees, like maples, a few ash trees, ancient hawthorns and a thirty year old walnut, mere Johnny-come-latelies compared to the big boys who may have seen a few hundred years of tourist activity around the castle since the Normans first threw it up to ward off those Welsh barbarians, thinly disguised as tourists but really after Norman damsels. And loot, of course. As well as the land the Normans stole from them.
Seriously, my garden is not some suburban plot with a few newly planted decorative specimens. even the plum and apple trees are groaning under the weight of considerable agedness; they really are in need of chopping down! Everything in Valley’s End is old, including the human inhabitants, so we should all be left in peace and allowed to disintegrate into the ground gracefully, as nature intends for all of us.
To quote Jonathan once more : “if the beech were in a field or a wood somewhere it could just shed limbs as it went along. It might take another hundred years over it. As the saying goes: A hundred to grow, a hundred to stay and a hundred to die.” Lovely.