Have you ever heard of Dutch elm disease? It was a pestilence that arrived in North America in the middle of the 20th century and pretty much wiped out this continent’s elm trees. I remember a long time ago – probably sometime in the very early 1970s – my father valiantly trying to save a beautiful tall old elm at the family farm in Haliburton County, one of the last elms left on the place. He had read about a treatment that was thought might save the trees: cutting into some roots and immersing them in a mixture of water and, if I recall correctly, copper sulfate. It was quite the project – and, sadly, it didn’t work. Dad was a great lover of the woods, and he was heartsick at the death of the elm trees.
Last weekend in Queensborough, Raymond and I took a drive to Tweed and thence out the scenic French Settlement Road to the Tregunna Tree Farm. We went with the intention of buying – or arranging to buy – a maple tree to replace the late lamented giant that used to grace the front yard of the Manse, the remains of which have recently, finally, been removed.
Tregunna is a good operation. They have all manner of trees and shrubs, including some nice big maples (25 feet and more) at an extremely reasonable price (let’s just say many hundreds of dollars cheaper than you would pay in the city), and we are going to have one of those transplanted to the Manse in the late fall, which is the season for it. As we were walking back from the maple-tree plantation, though, I noticed a lovely old tree off in a corner of their property and asked about it. The answer was a surprise: it’s an elm, one of the very few still left. (Though, as co-owner Gillian Tregunna told us, it’s starting to go.) But then she delivered some great news: elms that are resistant to Dutch elm disease are now available, and they had some for sale! (Here is an article from the Ottawa Citizen about the return of the elm in that city, thanks to disease-resistant strains.)So we are now the owners of an elm tree, though it has not yet been planted; we are hoping that will happen in mid-July. We would like to put it more or less where a smallish maple used to be at the northeast corner of the front yard. That will give us an elm and a maple in front of the Manse. And won’t that be lovely?
I think my father would be very pleased.