Friday, January 8, 2010

Elm Trees

I never had an elm tree. As a little girl, my wife had five large elms in her back yard in West Haven, CT. All were lost to Dutch elm disease in the 1950s, so I never saw them. I know elm trees are very tall and graceful, making them choice shade trees. I know that what killed most of them was a fungus carried by the Dutch elm bark beetle. Once under the bark the fungus grew in the tiny vessels carrying water and nutrients to the tree, clogging them and slowly “suffocating” the tree. DDT was used to control the beetle but was found to contaminate the surrounding environment, killing other species as well, so it was banned in the 1970s. On the positive side, I know that a few elms were genetically resistant to the fungus and survived. Today one can obtain a resistant elm from a nursery which maintains them. If interested, you can find one online. If I had a big house with a big yard I'd look into getting one. I wrote the following poem a few years ago as my own ode to those elms which were lost.


My vessels clogged by fungus foul

My leaves like tears I shed

For once you've got Dutch elm disease

You may as well be dead

—Peter Graves

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tree House

We had a large flowering cherry in the back yard at 45 Locust Street in Garden City, Long Island. We moved in during the winter of 1963 and the next spring my father, brother, and I decided to construct a tree house in the cherry tree. The tree’s trunk divided into two large limbs about three feet off the ground. We picked a spot where the limbs leveled off about twenty feet off the ground for the tree house. We purchased two fifteen feet logs at the lumberyard, hoisted them into the tree running from one limb to the other parallel to the ground. So as not to hurt the tree we lashed them around the limbs with hemp rope. The two logs were now level in the tree, and we nailed planks every six inches across the logs. We had our tree house – safe, hidden, secure, and towering above the rest of the neighborhood.

—Dana O'Brien

Chinese Pistache (Pistacia Chinensis)

This Chinese Pistache tree is growing in our front yard. The tree is at least 50 years old—probably older and has been part of our family since we moved here 26 years ago. Rick's grandfather built the house in 1940 and said the majority of the trees were "planted" by the birds. We assume it was a gift from the birds or squirrels. When our children were little we would hide easter eggs in the boughs and around the base, hang Christmas lights and ornaments from the lower branches. It has also served as the final resting place of our most favorite cats who were laid to rest at the base of the tree as this was their favorite place to pass hot summer days. It's funny how something can stir up sweet memories.
Sue Giari

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Little Yew

Two days ago I found this posting on Craigslist NYC. The tree was growing in a Brooklyn back yard and needed to be removed.

Free little PINE TREE
You can have this little conifer for free! But you have to help me dig it out. It has grown too big for my backyard. I've seen this variety used in hedges, and I've also seen them growing freely and reaching heights of 40 feet and maybe more. This one is only 7 feet tall. Bring a strong bag for the roots. Today, with the help of a friend, we dug it and moved it to a location where we hope it will thrive for many years. —John

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Weeping Hemlock in the Snow

So I stayed at your folks' B&B and your dad mentioned this GIGANTIC weeping hemlock. Off we went in a snowstorm, my wife and I, to see it. The next day, yesterday, I took some photos.
—Matthew Meltzer,

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Richard's Tree

This tree is a young Weeping Beech. In 1997 it was planted at the Cathedral in Garden City, L.I. as a memorial to my son Richard (1964-1982). My son's ashes were placed in the earth beneath the tree. The ash becomes earth and the tree is nourished by that earth. It should reach a height of fifty feet and it's branches will reach out from the trunk in a fifty foot sweep. It is the final resting place for my son and it should live on for centuries. We visit the tree often.—Richard Duvall

Friday, February 2, 2007

Tangled Branches

Courtesy of