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We had the same problem with Norway maples in our former neighborhood in Connecticut. Our neighbor saw them as trees, not the weeds they are, and let a thicket of them shade out and strangle his lilacs and dogwoods — and my ancient rhodies that couldn’t tolerate the drought conditions those doggone roots create. These are the same people who wouldn’t let a dandelion survive two minutes in their lawn. But somehow woody plants aren’t weeds to them. Alas… so much better to weed them out when you can do so with a trowel instead of chain saw.
“Before we get to the diplomatic response by Scott Aker of the National Arboretum, my reaction is why oh why do people let volunteer trees grow wherever they land, no matter how poorly placed or wrong the species for the site?”
Uh, free walnuts? ( … thank you, I’m here all week … )
I can think of two answers to this question. First is what Renee said: just try to trim a tree (let alone cut one down) after it’s a visible presence in your yard, no matter how much a problem it causes you, and see the reactions of your neighbors.
This past March, our next-door neighbor had three Norway maples that were squeezed behind his and his backyard neighbors’ garage cut down. They were shading his whole back yard and it was dark all the time there. He was very careful to talk to all the surrounding neighbors before the work was done.
Still, afterward, one neighbor shut her door in his face, another neighbor complained about the difference in light, and our backyard neighbor came around to inquire what was going on.
We had a limb cut from our Norway maple in the same job and they were very anxious that we not cut down the tree, although the arborist actually told us, “A Norway maple is a giant weed.”
I had to agree. The damned thing throws seedlings EVERYWHERE and it takes 2 or 3 days every spring to weed them all out.
Second is the thing I just mentioned: it’s easy to miss saplings until they’re too big to pull, especially if your idea of gardening is mowing the lawn and mulching the rhodies once a year, and you can’t tell the difference between plants by observing leaf shapes.
This year I found 4-foot saplings growing in the privet hedges on either side of our yard that simply would not be yanked. The previous owners and neighbors hadn’t noticed them, although the hedges are trimmed at least once a year. I had to cut the saplings at ground level and will probably have to keep doing it for eternity because they’re snuggled in with other plants. (Rasm frasm Norway maple … !)
I’m sure the walnut tree owners didn’t know what they were getting into until the azaleas died.
(What I want to know, though, is where did the squirrels get that first walnut?)
Previous home owners had not removed any of the weed trees in the lilac hedge. Did you know honeysuckle bushes can get 15 feet tall and look like trees? We’re still cutting and re-cutting the boxelders, elms, silver maples, and worst of all, buckthorn that insist on their right to take over the yard.
At least my husband is not such a tree hugger that he objects to removing the worst (all) of them.
I pointed out the buckthorn at a friend’s house, and explained why it should be removed. Her husband said, “I think it’s kind of pretty; besides, it’s a tree. Don’t we need more trees?”
She made him cut it down.
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