Suddenly I am worried about those trees

Very large trees very close to the Manse

I love these two huge red spruce trees adjacent to our Manse! But – are they too adjacent? should I be worried about them?

Over the 2½ years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve made several mentions of the two astoundingly tall red spruce trees that are in the front yard of the Manse – very close, in fact, to the house itself. (One of my best stories about those trees is here, a post pegged to a wedding that took place in this house in 1939 and the photos of the newlyweds that were taken in what is now our front yard. The revelation [to me] that I wrote about then was that in 1939 the two trees were either not yet planted or were so small as to be invisible in the picture; and what got me was how large those same trees are today, and what that tells us about the passage of time and the changes that happen without us even really thinking about them.)

When I was a kid growing up at the Manse, those trees were pretty tall. (Mind you, to a little kid, many things look pretty tall.) Now, however – almost 40 years after my family moved away from the Manse, and 2½ years since Raymond and I bought it – they are really quite something. Between 50 and 60 feet tall is our best guess.

Most of the time I feel quite proud and happy to have such beautiful tall trees in our yard. But every now and then I get a niggly feeling along the lines of: “But what if one of them were to fall down?” Good lord, if it fell in the wrong direction – that is, Manse-ward – it would be disastrous for the house, and very probably for anyone who happened to be in it at the time.

Those fears were exacerbated today as I read the weekly column called The Good Earth in one of our local newspapers, the Central Hastings News. The Good Earth is written by Dan Clost, who I gather works at a greenhouse/nursery in the Trenton area. I always enjoy Clost’s gardening and landscaping musings and advice; I like his common-sense approach and evident vast knowledge about the subject.

Today, though, he scared me. He was warning readers about fly-by-night “arborists,” people who have suddenly decided (and put on their business cards) that they know about trees and tree maintenance because, as he put it, they have smelled the money to be made from the recent appearance of the emerald ash borer in this area. (The emerald ash borer is a pest that will probably cause as much damage to Ontario’s ash population as Dutch elm disease did to the elms a few decades ago.) In writing about the dangerous things he’s seen untrained arborists and other landscaping-type people do, Close uses as an example “trees that grow to 80 feet tall planted within five feet of the house.”

Ummm… yikes!

6 thoughts on “Suddenly I am worried about those trees

  1. Not as bad as it looks/sounds; sorry to scare you.
    Your house and the trees have managed to co-exist very nicely and have established a stable relationship. Without a doubt, if you were to excavate you would find the roots coming up to the foundation and then following along its underground perimeter before carrying on.
    I wanted to warn folks about the damage a tree will cause if planted so close that branches rub against the roof or eaves, or planted too close to a septic system or, in the case of shallow rooted trees such as the Norway Maples, of the danger they pose to sidewalks and so on.
    Those are wonderful trees and they look quite healthy. As they age, they might be of concern but you shouldn’t worry overly much- they have a reported life span of 350+ years.

    • Dan, I am so delighted to hear from you! Since I wrote that post a while back I have become an even bigger fan of your column in the Central Hastings News (and, I believe, its sister publications). While I’ll probably never become a super-duper gardener, I learn stuff from your column every week, and it pretty much unfailingly inspires me with gardening ideas. Thank you so much for your reassuring words about our two very tall – and very close to the house – trees. And wow – what a thrill to hear that those beautiful trees could live another 250 years or more! It gives one pause – in a very good way. Thanks again!

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