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.

28 comments:

  1. That looks so much better! It's so great when you can make lemonade out of some lemons.

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    1. Hmmm, a 'lemon drop' sounds good right about now...

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  2. You're so lucky to have a neighbor like Bridget. She did a great job. We have a chaste tree that needs a trim in case Bridget travels :-).

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    1. I know she's been working pretty hard these last few weeks pulling together a landscape job for a client in addition to her normal work responsibilities (and spring in her own garden!), perhaps a get-away to sunny Davis, CA is just what the doctor ordered?

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  3. Great job Bridget! Those trees look really nice! I always admire people with pruners. They know what kind of tough love the trees really need. I don't posses the pruning whisperer skills.

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    1. I aspire to but unfortunately I'm a long way away. I'm too much of a wimp to really go for it, even when it's exactly what's needed.

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  4. She did an excellent job! You're so lucky to have a neighbor who knows what she's doing, and who volunteered to help.

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    1. Would you believe she makes amazing buckwheat pancakes too? Yep.

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  5. Oh thank goodness that it's safe to walk down your sidewalk again! B.G. and I are elated! You're lucky to have someone who knows about how to prune trees living so close! Bridget is a treasure!

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    1. Haha, took me a few minutes but I finally go it. Yes B.G. would be happy with me, I've got a neighbor with a gnarly overhanging rosemary I'd love to introduce him to.

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  6. Such an improvement...but watch out: once Andrew is bitten by the pruning bug you will have to lock up the loppers.

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    1. Oh you are so right! He once threatened to prune the trees while I was out of town. Thankfully I convinced him not to, no telling what I might have come home to.

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  7. Wow...she did an amazing job (Andrew too, of course)! Maybe I need to ask her over to give me some advice on my horrid foundation shrubs!

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    1. If there's a garden visit involved you just might be able to talk her into it...

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  8. Well done!

    They look 100% better!

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  9. Bridget and Andrew has done a fantastic job, it looks so much better! It frames your house nicely too!

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    1. You know I'm a fan of dense planting (wide open spaces are not natural!) so that "framing" of the house was kind of bothering me, until I realized it's more sun for the sun lovers so you know I'm happy with that...

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  10. Great job on the pruning. And nice trees, too.

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  11. Your trees look great! Is your neighbor planning a trip to SoCal anytime soon? I have a Mimosa tree in serious need of help...

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    1. Wow sounds like she's got a few job opportunities in California!

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  12. They look great! So important to know what you are doing with tree pruning -- well maintained street trees benefit the whole block - yay!

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    1. Our 2-block stretch needs every tree it can get. There are a few of my neighbors who seem to be anti anything but lawn. Sad...

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  13. I like to prune too, and she did a nice job. Just wondering though -- did you ever consider taking them out? They kind of steal the show from your front garden when leafed out. I could see a single airy tree (acacia? callistemon?) off-center in your main garden serving as the perfect dry-garden accent, letting the yuccas be the stars along the street.

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    1. They are definitely less "show-stealing" now, what with the leaves lifted upwards and the branches exposed. However your question is a good one. Unfortunately it's not so easy to remove street trees in Portland. As I understand it once trees are in place (as these were when we moved in) you have to get permission from the city to remove them and then promise to replant something.

      My neighbors to the south went through the proper channels to get permission to remove their (very poorly placed) Ponderosa Pine (in a parking strip!) and were told "no" which is pure craziness, that tree is horrid. I have a friend who decided to buck the system and just remove her diseased tree, a neighbor reported her to the city and she had something insane like 72 hours to replace it with a tree of similar size.

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  14. Austin has pretty strict tree-removal rules too. I get the need for them, but yes, rules tend to be a blunt instrument, not finely tuned to each individual circumstance. At any rate, your trimmed trees are certainly airier and better suited to your lovely garden now.

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  15. The yard looks so beautiful! I also love the bright green door :)

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  16. I am not afraid to admit that I am with Bridget, I love to prune. She has done a good job and I guess it will keep people from stepping into your garden to avoid wet branches.

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