A garden visit and Dealing with a stump from a blown over tree “Oh, My God, the wind is doing something weird. The trees are dancing through the sky, There comes a tree top into the middle of the back yard. This is scary!!!” It was April 27, 2011, a little after eight in the morning. I was at my office and Dekie had just called me. A tornado had gone through the Summerville Park subdivision in the middle of our conversation. The winds went away quickly, though, leaving quite a number of the stately trees on and around Oakwood Street down in yards, across the road, and on top of houses. Fortunately, no one was injured. By the time I could get there to look at it, the streets were blocked with trees and workers with chain saws. Ken Nance lives in a beautiful house across the street and down a bit from our house. He called me a few days after the basic rubble had been cleaned up. My brother and I had both done some work for Ken about twenty years ago and he wanted me to look at a stump that was left in his yard after the winds. The tree had been laid neatly out across the road, missing Ken’s house and a decorative fence. When the tree was cut away from the stump it almost righted itself but was left partly out of the ground. There was a big air pocket full of water and old roots beneath it. The question was “how to handle it”
I looked at the stump and thought about it. It seemed that no matter what we did, there would still be a problem with the area under the stump. Grinding it would leave us with a lot of wood chips and we would still have a hole under it. If we left the base of the stump, we would still have a problem with the water and a big air pocket. Anything we did on top would slowly sink, too, as the wood rotted underneath. I had to think about it. I was very busy with spring plantings and getting ready for a wedding to be followed by a two week trip. I told Ken to be patient and that we would fix the problem in June. I got back from my trip and started on a hectic schedule trying to take care of neglected customers. Every day, though, I had a small stress attack as I drove by Ken’s house and looked at that sideways stump. Finally, it hit me. “I’ll have to call Lee,” I told myself. I was lucky, too, in that I ran into Lee Bagley, owner of Maloney’s Tree Service, in the Home Depot parking lot. We made a plan for Monday, June 27. I left the conversation grinning. My assignment was to move all of the nice plants out of an area that was ten to twelve feet from the stump. I called Mike Hutchins and scheduled a delivery of a load of compost for 1:30 that same afternoon. It was a tight schedule, but I wanted to make a show.
We showed up on Monday morning and started digging plants. There as a number of nice nandinas among other plants. We dug a good root ball and set the plants to the side to be used after we took care of the stump. I told Ken that the tree service would show up between 11:30 and 12. Ken asked, “Will he bring his machine? I said, “Yes, he will.” “A large stump grinder?” “No. You’ll see.” And right on time, Lee showed up with his machine. I could see Ken’s face light up. Lee backed in the driveway and Lee proceeded to unload a digger that was equipped with rubber tracks.
All of the plants had been removed and the site was prepared for the stump to be dealt with.
Lee operated the back hoe with skill and confidence. He began by wiggling the tree back and forth to break loose any tenuous roots. I was reminded of a dentist pulling a tooth.
Lee carefully explored the area all around the trunk, gently cutting and digging. Several times he put so much pressure on the dig that the entire machine looked like it would tip over. I wondered if the idea would work.
After a while the stump came out of the ground. Lee’s helper was standing there with a chain, but we didn’t think the machine would lift it. I wondered what would happen next.
And then Lee pulled one of the slickest moves I’ve ever seen. He used the back hoe shovel to pull the stump over to the top of the blade which had been lowered to the driveway. Next, holding the stump firmly against the blade, he raised the blade and the stump came up off the ground.
Everybody grinned. The stump pulled the backs of the treads off the drive now and then as Lee slowly moved the stump toward his trailer. Watching the back hoe move up the trailer was tense, too, as the back treads wiggled off the ground and the entire machine was perched precariously on the ramps. I looked at Ken and said, “Tight, ain’t it?”
Lee drove off to take the stump to the city compost area. We cleaned all of the left over roots out of the gaping hole and had time for a short lunch break before the next delivery. At exactly 1:30, just as scheduled, Mike Hutchins showed up with a ten cubic yard load of his wonderful compost. I don’t think I could run my business without this stuff.
In between the stump removal and the compost, we decided that we needed to run a pipe out from the downspout so that was hooked up before we started finishing the contour of the bed. We planned to make a mound of the compost to compensate for any future settling. We packed it firmly as we put it in the hole and on the surrounding garden area.
One spot in the undamaged part of the garden was crying for flowers, so we use some left over compost to create a raised bed.
The next day, Mary worked with me on the plant layout. She loves the nandinas for their ease of maintenance as well as for the free and open multi colored leaves and the berries in winter. We moved some azaleas and other plants around to create a natural looking “woods floor” motif. We used a palmatum Japanese maple for height and accent pretty close to where the stump had been. For the “forest floor we use plum yew (cephalotaxus), lenten roses (helleborus), and lily of the valley. I also found one plant of Solomon’s seal for the back entrance. This garden will show off every day of the year. I made Ken one of my WONDERFUL SPRINKLERS He loved it and asked me to build another one. I showed up a few days later and got this picture of Ken and Mary admiring their new garden
I stood back and took a picture of the finished garden
I decided that I needed to take a short walk to the Nance’s delightful back yard. I entered through the neat arbor that my brother TOM SCHULZ, ARTIST had built a number of years ago. I really like the meditation bench that he worked in to the left side.
I admired the comfortable looking series of walkways and sitting areas. The entire area brought a feeling of peace and relaxation. I enjoyed looking at Mary’s sculptured container plantings. The facade of the old garage with ivy on it really makes a good backdrop.
Ken and Mary enjoy their garden, their morning coffee, and a bit of a reading break in the garden. Ken has just started Mike Ragland’s new book, Bertha
As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what? ******