Thursday 18 August 2016

Tree Work

A not so peaceful day in Bolton Percy Churchyard

I knew that villager and very fine arboriculturist Jason Brown had submitted a very generous tender for extracting four very large trees from the cemetery. It was by complete chance when I arrived for my monthly stint - a little early at nine  - to find the road cordoned off and Jason swinging like a monkey halfway high up the enormous Leylandii. Already it had lost the bottom half of its branches? Neatly cut and precisely dropped direct to the road.

Could I get in to spray? Jason’s two lads in perpetual motion were dragging and thrusting  branches into the shredder. They stepped aside to let me enter through the squeaky gate. Not that you could hear it today. The chainsaw and shredder created quite a cacophony.
Immensley  professional, Jason was safely strapped to a strong secure sling on the tree. I was later impressed how he zipped up and down the fifty foot monster. I could barely climb that high if I had the rest of the day.

I later confessed it was I that had forty years earlier planted the tree! Not only that but I had rooted the cutting on my allotment. That year I was very keen on the rooting properties of horizontal shaded polythene laid over cuttings inserted direct into the ground. I had propagated hundreds of plants - fortunately very few were Leylands! Three had gone into the cemetery and their removal was Jason’s task for the day! A passer by overheard my admission and enquired if I felt at all sentimental about the tree’s demise. No, I was absolutely delighted.
It had been very foolish of me to plant them at all. No one should plant such potential monsters in a cemetery. I recently blogged about conifers as a habitat for wildlife and suggested that gardeners might plant certain varieties and be prepared to fell them several years later and plant some more. 
But forty years that’s ridiculous! Perhaps I should offer to pay? I hope my forty years maintaining the garden will be my contribution.

Blogging in mind I took a few pictures of the rest of the garden. Unfortunately the sun was  very strong from the wrong direction. I remembered when Marianne Majerus came to photograph the garden she was up at six in the morning to get the light the right way. Ah well I would get some more next month and publish later. I would have pictures of the finished job....

Every year Clematis fargesioides and wild honeysuckle are in friendly combat
The agapanthus has been there longer than the Leyland Cypress
Garden plants grow naturalistically
I received an e-mail that evening. Unfortunately two of the other trees housed wasp nests that would need to be destroyed and a pigeon had a nest... somewhere. Tree work can be dangerous enough without wasps buzzing around you! The job is partially completed. Progress was slow as the gravestones are a real problem. The first tree will remain for a while as a totem. I will publish today and add pictures of the finished job later.
We will be left with some fine planting opportunities  - so much more light and moisture.  The thirty year grouping of Rosa ‘Nevada’ that has been in steep decline as the Leyland has got bigger will rise like a phoenix.

We are going to be left with a wonderful mulch pile. A job for the ‘C team’!

Tree work in pictures

Large trees need to be dismantled. Not just chopped down. This was the stage when I arrived - about half an hours work

The lower branches were dropped in the road

The shreddings will be used for mulching in the churchyard. They will reduce weeds from seed and not in this case be composted
This Leyland cypress is the next one to come down
You can see the large thuja down the churchyard path. It is probably a hundred years old. It has grown very little in my time and is becoming unstable. Due to its venerability and species it has a better public image than the Leylands and will only be beheaded! 

Forty foot high Jason is safely secured

I was intrigued how they would take the head off the Leyland and would need a picture. Sadly the operation was done so quickly I missed the opportunity! I could not envisage that an arborist’s accuracy is such that they can drop a trunk on a pin head. A few deft cuts with a small chainsaw and the top fell precisely into the road. 
I was getting my camera out, Jason shouted “ten pence for the picture” as the top fell. I dared not tell him I had missed it!

Ten seconds later I was ready!

Even Jason surprised himself at the size of the tree
I wonder if this totem will be there for my next visit. I would have liked to have seen  the trunk sections coming down,

I left for home at lunchtime. The two rounded tops of the thuja are now gone

Open day announcements
As a working churchyard the cemetery garden can be visited at any time.
This notice is about my own garden at Boundary Cottage

Tuesday August 23rd. Next week! Open in aid of Yorkshire Arboretum. Open all day including evening. Refreshments only served between one and four. Peter Williams has agreed to open his very fine garden down the road (from 1pm) and no doubt his wonderful plants will be on sale. For those without the bumper all garden ticket from Yorkshire Arboretum the entrance will be five pounds. It will cover those who want to add Peter’s garden

Boundary Cottage yellow book Open Day is on Sunday September 11th. Directions are on the NGS website

NGS directions to Boundary Cottage

NGS directions to Peter's Garden  Weathervane House
(You have missed his NGS Open day!)

Link to Yorkshire arboretum website

My recent post about birds and conifers

My post about Marianne Majerus's visit and a route to her own website with pictures of cemetery

The cemetery 'C team' gets to work 

Boundary Cottage this morning

Update ten days later
Thank you Jason you have done a great job for the village

The job took all of three days. It looks like a further planting opportunity


  1. The wasps will disappear as summer ends so if you can wait you don't need to kill them.

  2. Wow, that was a big job! And it's not over yet...
    The wasps would have had me completely spooked and hysterical. Much as Iove most animals, I really really do not like wasps. I know they are useful and important, but I don't want them anywhere near me, thank you.

    It will be interesting to see how the garden changes now with the trees gone!

    Thank you for the links to Yorkshire Arboretum.
    One of my next posts will, by coincidence, also be about an NGS Open Garden: Littlethorpe Manor (near Ripon).

    1. I mentioned Littlethorpe's heavy clay in my recent post 'The things that they say'
      You might be interested in Yorkshire arboretum's free monthly gardening lectures - they don't seem to say much about them on their site. Peter and I go every month.

  3. Those guys are amazing to watch. We've a couple of big trees that are maybe not leylandii but still large cypress. We've raised the crown as much as possible, and some ground cover ivy has taken over the trunks, so when you are underneath them they are actually very lovely. But when you aren't underneath them they are ugly. So we are struggling to come to a decision on their fate!

    I normally put up with wasps, even when they ground nest and create a no-go area for me. But early this summer they picked a spot that was just too difficult, and I reluctantly decided they had to go. I used the vacuum cleaner, they all go to have a look at the tube and you can guess the rest! After an hour most of them have gone up the tube. Nest removal is best done at night but I ignored that advice and used a hose and a stick. When the vacuum cleaner had cooled down I used a fly spray on it. (warning, do not try this at home, etc.!!!)
    So much for my 'save the bugs' comments, I've blown it now.

  4. Trees are wonderful but they often outgrow their usefulness and need to be chopped down. It is far better to chop down and start afresh rather than to hideously disfigure a tree, as happens so often (thanks to non-expert and unsympathetic tree-loppers). Think what the world would be like if humans did not die. I suppose then there would need to be euthanasia, like with your big tree, At least tree-remains are very useful as a mulch, human remains not quite so useful.

  5. I think I might write a post one day David on the parallels between a human life and that of a tree. It starts with extreme vulnerability, goes on to minor 'teenage ills' interspersed with life threatening events and vigorous development, maturity of middle age, minor and major debilities of old age and eventual death - in the case of a tree often with assistance. Minor childhood ills and middle age disease might be such as rusts and mildews that come and go. In old age trees become vulnerable to serious rots and cankers which often lead to final demise.

  6. My neighbors just cut down an old Leyland Cyprus right behind my fence. It was not that huge, but I was glad to see that sickly tree removed. I was just in Yorkshire two days ago. Beautiful country you have.

    1. Good to hear you have been over here Donna. I wonder if you came to York!

  7. Does shredded conifer mulch make the soil acidic. We are planning to plant native deciduous saplings in November and need something to keep the weeds down.

    1. Often conifer mulch is acidic but it depends on the particular species and the soil on which it grew e.g. the soil might be calcareous. Gardeners also worry about nutrient depletion with fresh mulch. Whilst both might be relevant on delicate young plants it is of no consequence for your saplings They will love it Josephine


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