Monday, 17 March 2008

Ever done something and almost wished you hadn't?

A large plot and overgrown with nasty, 40 year-old, 40 foot tall Leylandii. But, there are other trees and shrubs and this morning I thought it was about time I took an audit of what we have.

I almost wish I hadn't, I knew we had a Leylandii "problem" but I hadn't realised the scale of it. Whilst it is wonderful to find your garden a vast number of big shrubs and trees of various shapes and sizes, it's not so much fun when 48 of them are Leylandii. When I told Husband his first comment was "WHAT! Are you sure?". I reassured him that I can manage sums of this sort and his reply was "never mind, a chain saw is a wonderful thing".

Which reminds me, I ought to go into Keswick and collect ours which has just had a thorough service, chain sharpened and general TLC.

Of the deciduous items:

There are three very large Prunus, not sure exactly which one. A pretty tree, nicely shaped with attractive blossom in Spring - and located in a solid line across the front of the plot blocking the view of the fells from all but the study window. They are not needed for privacy therefore I suspect they were planted 10 or 15 years ago without thought for how they would mature. It feels like sacrilege but they are all coming out. I have already made a start on two of them (do not ever under-estimate the capabilities of a determined woman with a pruning saw). The largest (and middle) tree has a reprieve until it has flowered and then it too will be coming out.

11 are Silver Birch. They are interplanted between Leylandii, tall, thin, leggy and desperate for air and light. It's quite possible that when the Leylandii go many will either die because of disruption to their shallow roots, or just get blown about too much and break. That will be a great shame and they'll be replaced if necessary.

(If you look closely, the birch are on the left and on the right is the large Acer)
These two, with a Cotoneaster in between, have more light and air than any others.

We have at least one fairly mature Beech tree (well, that's what I think it might be), and possibly others but it's hard to be sure until they come into leaf. There's a huge specimen that the previous owner described as an Acer, I fear it is common Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) but the garden is large enough to take it, and it's a decent shape. Time will tell as the leaves develop.

(Even if this turns out not to be a Beech, it has a lovely shape and is in a good location)

There are Cotoneaster which the Blackbirds love. From the few berries that are left I think ours are C. Cornubia. They badly need pruning and bringing back into shape but I can't physically get to them right now. We've also some Holly, no idea which variety or what I can do with them - they are leggy, starved, swamped under Leylandii and not very happy at all.

Summary of Tree Audit
38 Leylandii large
10 Leylandii small, possibly self-seeded, trunk less than 10" diameter, we can remove these ourselves.

1 Beech ?
4 Cherry
11 Silver Birch
7 Cotoneaster
3 Holly (not exactly trees, but out of control large shrubs, need pruning back into condition)
2 Conifer (out of control and taking up half the back of the garden. I'm fairly certain it is J. sabina tamariscifolia)
12 Unidentified (until they come into leaf) medium deciduous trees

The tree-count does not include three large beds of conifers and heather (very 1970's) which I don't much care for but right now they are doing no-one any harm, minding their own business and not asking for attention - so they can stay put for a while! They contain a mixture of Conifer, Skimmia Japonica, Verbena, Heather, Broom, Rhododendron, a very sick-looking Camellia and Hebe.

Struggling under the dense Leylandii growth are some very sad Flowering Currant, Forsythia, Escallonia and overgrown Clematis but the best thing is finding many Yew and Holly seedlings between 12" and 24" tall. They will be transplanted, loved and much appreciated.

Last but not least, the hedge of Escallonia which runs for over 100 foot around two sides of the garden. It is either dead or dying and is destined for the bonfire to be replaced with a hedge of mixed native species.

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