Sunday, May 01, 2016

Globe Willows in the Spring

Weather: In Monday’s winds, the tops of the globe willow were waving like pampas grass. Then the blessed rains came, Friday and today.

What’s blooming in the area: Flowering quince, spirea, lilac, Dutch iris, moss phlox, donkey spurge. The last of the plants to emerge each year are leafing, the catalpas, black locusts, grapes, and my baptisia.

Beyond the walls and fences: Tansy and purple mustards, hoary cress, alfilerillo, western stickseed, fleabane, dandelions.

In my yard: Grape hyacinth, lilies of the valley, vinca.

Inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Rabbits, small birds, ants.

Weekly update: Globe willows do so well in the village near the river, I planted one. Then the southwestern trunks of the two in the yard of my neighbor to the north and west died. I got wary about mine.

This year something happened to the one of a neighbor a bit to the east and north. I’m not sure exactly what. It never was as symmetrical at the best, and had a great many trunks rising from the roots.

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad to have that habit. Whenever men come to trim my trees, they would always offer to cut it to proper form, but I shake my head no. With my tree, the basal branching happened when it died back to the ground. I’m still not sure if what is growing is what I bought, or some less desirable willow used as root stock. Maybe that’s what happened with my neighbor’s tree.

A few weeks ago I noticed a pile of brush in the wash that floods when water rushes down the hills. Some years ago that neighbor, or whoever lived there then, went out with a backhoe and scraped away all the vegetation. ATV riders turned it into a road. Ever since, the neighbor has been putting limbs crossways to block them, and they’ve moved them to reopen the passage.

The pile this year looked even more formidable. And well it should. It was a large trunk of that globe willow.

I gather the trunk must have broken loose in one of the rounds of high winds.

I went from being wary to worried. The last few years my tree has expanded in all directions because a leaking hose valve sent water down to the drive where it puddled. I’ve now fixed the leak, which will mean it gets less water this year. I fear something will die back.

I grew watchful. The first leaves were all at the top,

with the branches at the bottom left bare.

Oddly, the barren ones were over the gravel, where water collects. I remembered it was sun scald that killed the other neighbor’s trunks. These branches seemed too small to have that problem. I thought maybe it was because the gravel was warmer than the grass, and retained more heat on snowy days which damaged the thinner rods.

A few weeks age, after the top was fully leafed, I noticed the tree was filling the interior by producing leaves along the limbs, rather than the branches. Perhaps these were less damaged by heat reflected from the ground.

This morning I looked again. Now leaves were coming out lower to the ground, but they’re even closer to the trunk.

I suppose this all means that globe willows, or whatever it is that I have, adapted to an environment where snow covered the ground so heat wouldn’t rise and destroy as it went. This year, like most years, whatever snow we had melted quickly. Apparently warm ground isn’t as good for them as cold.

Photographs: My globe willow and that of my neighbor.
1. New leaves on mine, 27 March 2016.
2. Snow on the leaves a few days later, 1 April 2016.
3. My neighbor’s tree a few years ago, 27 November 2011.
4. My neighbor’s tree parts in the wash, 14 April 2016.
5. My neighbor’s damage trunk in the wash, 14 April 2016.
6. My tree a few years ago blowing in the wind, 21 June 2013.
7. Top leaves on my tree the same day I found my neighbor’s tree in the wash, 14 April 2016.
8. Bare branches near the base of my tree, 1 May 2016.
9. Leaves emerging close to the limbs, 20 April 2016.
10. Leaves emerging near the base of the trunks, 1 May 2016.

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