The Cool House: landscape
Showing posts with label landscape. Show all posts
Showing posts with label landscape. Show all posts

Friday, September 18, 2015


We are in mourning today for a part of the landscape, for what the tree surgeon described in April as the best tree in the Incorporated Village and for the core of our view every day for the past eleven years. When we moved in to the Cool House the previous owner explained the house's unusual design was conceived in part around this enormous mountain spruce tree in the front yard. Its beautiful fringed, dark green arms seemed to offer our home an enveloping hug, protecting it from the harsh Long Island winters, providing shade from the relentless summer sun. Each morning we have stood in front of the kitchen windows, sipping coffee, watching the birds and squirrels among the branches, marveling at its magnificence.

We took every opportunity of good weather in Spring, Summer and Fall to enjoy lunch al fresco on the patio beneath its branches until, sometime after the Fourth of July celebrations, we noticed the needles on the bottom branches were falling off, even though they were still green. Over the course of the next couple of weeks the phenomenon worsened. We googled, consulted the landscape and the tree experts and came up with a diagnosis of severe needle drop. We crossed our fingers and hoped it would be a temporary problem but the needle drop persisted, leaving only brown fronds; some days it seemed as though it was raining pine needles. 

While we still had tiny, green pinecones on the ends of the branches we could still hope for a recovery but when these too started falling and the branches turned brown and bare farther and farther up the tree we knew we were facing a dying tree. By mid-September it was all over. Even the uppermost tip was dry and the ground beneath covered in a couple of inches or more of desiccated needles.

For the last month we haven't been able to sit outside on the patio, everything has been covered in pine needles. We couldn't bear to drink our coffee looking at the tree, it was too depressing, and most telling, the birds and squirrels abandoned it. Finally, we knew it could no longer be saved and made a called the tree guys to remove it. Today they spent 8 hours taking down its 150' skeletal remains. 

I'm trying to look on the bright side, the west facing rooms will have more light, the front lawn will have less stress, we can replant the dell but all I can see is negative space, a pivotal part of the landscape gone. It's still a shock that it happened so quickly: two months from the first sign to complete failure. All that remains is a stump, a truck load of wood chips and an aching heart. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Inspiration comes in the oddest places

I'm thinking this landscape, snapped at JFK, may be the way I want the final section of the yard to look, with a few tweaks of course. Thoughts? Comments?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

If a tree falls...

Made a HUGE mistake in walking up the neighbor's drive to chat. Sorry, that came out wrong, the chat was very nice, as is the neighbor. No, the mistake I made was to look at my yard from the north side, the side of neglect, an area that we cleared of debris and dead shrubs wrapped in burlap a couple of years ago but that we have done nothing to since then. Because we don't rake the leaves here, allowing them to smother the weeds and enrich the soil, the ground is about 4" higher on our side of the fence; there are a few branches that fell during the winter and many twigs. Generally the area looks unkempt but the source of my dismay was a huge conifer that has fallen sideways and is being propped up by the fence. If it were to fall completely it would probably take out the fence too...
As the tree is still green we guess it's still alive but half its roots are out of the ground. We've no idea how long it's been like that, whether the roots have frozen in this season of frigid temperatures, but we have to try to save it. So the mission for tomorrow is to dig around the side of the rootball and see if we can prop it up, then brace it with stakes. That's the plan anyway. Of course the whole venture could go horribly wrong, the tree could fall on the person supporting it...
So many scenarios, none of them good.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Favourite Tree

Japanese Maple
This is my favourite tree and it's not even in my yard. It's over a couple of roads in the historical Baycrest district of Huntington Bay. The Incorporated Village consists of smaller areas based around five private beach associations like Baycrest and some areas that don't have any affiliation to a beach club, thus increasing the opportunity for more rules and bureaucracy in this part of the Land of the Free. We belong to one beach club, Baycrest starts a hundred or so yards to the north-west of our property, and my neighbours opposite are unaffiliated. Go figure.
Anyway, back to the beauty of nature in the fall. I've been walking the dogs past this tree all week monitoring the changing colour. I think the reason I like it so much is the sculptural quality of the black trunk and branches, balanced with the soft round shape of the foliage and, of course, at this time of the year, the rich red and orange tones of the leaves. Enjoy.