Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My flagging cedar

We have a long driveway. One of my favorite features about my house (literally, one of my favorite things, I've said it out loud more than a few times) is that the branches of two cedar trees on either side of the driveway converge to create a canopy over the driveway. This creates shade, cooling the house, and obscures the view of our house from the street, creating privacy.

Also, it's pretty.

Since it is one of my most favorite things, you would think I'd have a picture of it in its glory, but I do not. Here it is during last winter's snowstorm, seen from the street.

Here it is today, seen from the front porch.

The other day, I noticed that some of the branches had turned brown all the way up to the top of this 50-foot-or-taller tree. Seemingly overnight. Surely I would have noticed if this were gradual, I look at those branches every day.

With a little internet research, I came to the conclusion that this was called "flagging" and is either:
  • The normal result of an extremely hot dry spell, combined with a few nicks to the trunk caused by construction vehicles over the past 10 months. The brown branches will blow out in the fall and winter, and the tree will "resume its healthy appearance." (from http://pep.wsu.edu/hortsense/), or
  • A sign the tree is dying because construction vehicles have repeatedly driven over the roots and banged into the trunk. The tree may survive, but will "never look good again, with lots of dead branches and gaps in the crown." (from UBC Botanical Garden forums)

To look at the trunk, yes, it would appear that this tree has suffered some abuse. I'm not too happy with the construction folks who dinged up my tree.


Someone on the UBC forum corrected me to say this is Thuja plicata, not a cedar, but we here in the Pacific Northwest call that a western redcedar, even though it's technically a cypress. Deal with it.

Someone else said, "Driving over the roots of a tree (and running into its trunk) are a way to kill it." Yeah, well, that makes me look like a big idiot, doesn't it?

This tree has probably been here for a hundred years. A driveway was built on top of its roots. Could our little backyard construction project be killing it?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your auntie lou is voting for the hot dry spell and full recovery.
They are very nice cedar/cypresses.

chronicle said...

Your mother also chooses to believe that a tree this old will survive this minor insult.