Zen and the art of Tree Maintenance:

There are 58 trees at Mezzacello. That sentence astounds me. I spend so much time working on the ground and the beds it never occurred to me that there would be life happening in the z-axis above the gardens as well. I planted five of those trees in the back alley “Fruit Tree Zone” and we have three tress that we inherited for good or bad from the original property. The one I am focusing on today is the 24.3m (80 feet) tall London Plane that DOMINATES the southeastern corner of Mezzacello. I am aware that this tree provides copious amounts of shade (especially on a 30C (86F) summer day). What I had NOT imagined before last year was how enormous the tree canopy is. I took a visual from Google Maps. I calculated the 22.8 m x 45.6m (75′ x 150′) grounds boundary and determined the diameter of the tree canopy to be 21m (74′). so that tree is oblong. The trunk is 1/3 of the height below the canopy and the branches are dipping into the airspace of the  4.8m (4.8m*100=480cm , 480/2.54=189″, 180/12=15.9′) tall hornbeams in the allee. This is where the issue arise.

See a map of Mezzacello here.

The London Plane tree at the bottom right corner of the image. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

This is NOT a small tree. It is a significant tree. Probably planted in 1960 in the side yard of the Greek Revival house that once stood on this property. Now this tree is eating up all the airspace AND the roots are pulling all the water out of the ground. There is nothing to be done about the roots, but the branches MUST be managed. They are touching the hornbeams and causing crown rot. This when a hornbeam senses danger so it stops growing. This is a stress response. We have 38 hornbeams in the allee. only 34 of them top the 4.8m height because the others have stunted growth. So in a mirror of the gardens below, we must manicure the garden in the sky; the tree canopy. This is not an easy or inexpensive task. This will require an arborist or tree surgeon. Because in addition to the geometry of the tree fro ground to crown, we must also consider the geometry of the tree in its vertical environment. It sits on a nondescript alley called “Avon Alley” right over one of the southeastern electrical lines that provides power to our entire neighborhood and a major hospital. No casual cuts can be involved here (You can just see the main lines at the bottom of the image above).

The tree, the hornbeam allee, the alley, and the mains power lines running along the southern edge of Mezzacello. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

So we need to regroup and determine how we are going to manicure the “plants of the air” above Mezzacello. We will be – of course – providing all the data. Until then, hug a tree. There is so much more to consider than a trunk some roots and leaves. Trees are the poets of the atmosphere and I am not angry with this tree for being fabulous, but I am its temporary steward.

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