Crimes against cedars

It’s down. All of it. Well, almost all of it.

No more giant symbol of machismo, but a heck of a lot of logs. And the guys did a fantastically neat job, too. All stacked and ready to be moved once the old log pile had been finally cleared.

And the chipping mountain. Let’s not forget the enormous chipping mountain, now transferred into four rubble sacks, and with a pile still remaining.

Felling the tree meant that we learned more about it, of course. I knew some things about Western Red Cedars in general: that they can be 60 metres tall in Oregon, Washington and British Colombia where they are native; that the wood makes great garden furniture or roof shingles; that Alaskan Haida Indians wove fibres from the bark into all sorts of things, from baskets to hats, and made arrows from the stems and fishhooks from the tough knots; that other North-Western Native American tribes would use the trunks for huge canoes and totem poles.

(A bit of carving of that trunk, and I could have created a little piece of north-western Canada in north-western Wales. Hmm.)

About this specific tree, I learned that the smell of pineapple from felling it carried a long way and was making people sniff the air in the village, trying to fathom out where the unusual aromatic scent came from.

I learned that it was probably about 90 years old, though it got a bit difficult to tell exactly as the tree rings neared the centre.

But Mr Tree Surgeon Man was intrigued too, by something else.

He’d heard of it, but – possibly surprisingly – he’d not encountered any evidence before. Someone had tried to kill the tree in the past – probably when it was about 20 years old – with copper nails.

Obviously it hadn’t worked.

I’d not come across this before, so I googled ‘killing a tree with copper nails’ – and there’s a whole world of people out there trying to be nasty to their neighbours on the quiet. It was the online equivalent of lifting a stone and finding all sorts of strange things going on underneath, wriggling around in the semi-dark. It’s only fair to add that there’s also a rational world out there responding to the copper-nail-weilding would-be tree poisoners, saying things like ‘It’s a myth and it won’t work unless the tree is already sick’, and ‘Are you really sure you should be posting this in a public forum?’

Away from the world of the strange and furtive kingdom of the neighbour-nadgers, I’m intrigued by the bark

and the changing colour of the exposed wood, which is steadily becoming more and more orange-pink in tone.

I’ve been doing a bit of natural dyeing – dyeing wool with natural substances like eucalyptus and indigo – and I’m wondering if I can extract any colour from that bark. I must investigate. Oh, and work. I mustn’t forget about work.

But I can contemplate the necessity for work from what the guys left for me:

A throne, complete with footstool (and copper stain).

I’m not quite sure what this says about how they see me, but I do have a feeling that the chainsaw will be out again soon – even though it’s a nice riposte to the aggressively masculine trunk when I sit upon it and survey my realm. I do get a great view from my Seat of Power:

though I do have to peel resin off my jeans afterwards. This – the view, not my resin-stained jeans – was always visible, actually; just not particularly noticeable because the garden was dominated by the tree so much. And I’m not feeling particularly guilty, and I don’t think I’ll be hunted down by vengeful ents or the Fair Folk, because I’ve been doing a head count and I’ve got more trees than I found here when I moved in ten years ago now (eek).

Let’s see: 3 ashes, 3 apples, 2 pears, 3 birches, 1 WRC, 1 cherry (OK, it’s ill), 1 ginkgo, 1 crinodendron (quite small – at the moment), 1 acer, 2 damsons, 1 plum. Oh, and the Portugal laurel and the amelanchier you can hardly see because of the Portugal laurel. And the magnolia. And a bay. Two bays, but one’s still in a pot. And a rowan, that’s quite big. Oops, forgot the holly because I cut it to the ground every so often, and it’s cut at the moment. Does a holly count?

In fact, I think I need to join Treeaholics Anonymous. It’s a big garden, but…


20 thoughts on “Crimes against cedars

    1. kate Post author

      The space is fab and, paradoxically, it seems less windy (the tree must really have channelled it, because it has been pretty windy lately). The throne, however, is very windy. Almost the most exposed spot in the garden, so it will probably turn into a flat resting pace for an urn or something. Which I will nail down.

  1. wellywoman

    Loving the seat, shame about the resin. How fascinating to try to kill a tree with copper nails? I adore trees and would have loads instead I make do with my beloved crab apple and a baby liquidambar. The dream one day is to have a small coppice.

    1. kate Post author

      Oh, I’m glad someone else doesn’t know about the copper nail thing – I got the impression from all the internet chit-chat that ‘everyone’ did, and that just about everyone was plotting treeicide. Aboricide.

      I originally wanted my own wood but couldn’t find a suitable property. In retrospect I’m quite glad, but a coppice – ah, a coppice – would be wonderful. And handy…

  2. paulinemulligan

    Fantastic view from your throne, can’t imagine getting any gardening done with a view like that! I had heard about trying to kill trees with nails – copper or otherwise, that shows how old I am ! Enjoy your new space and light!!

    1. kate Post author

      The thing that embarrasses me most is that the view was always there – a definite case of not seeing the wood for the trees (or tree), literally. And the dunes beyond the wood and beyond them the sea, Admittedly I’d have had to wrestle my way through the overgrown hebe, to get exactly that view, but it was there all along. Sigh…

    1. kate Post author

      It changes your whole perspective. I’ve already decided that I need to increase the size of the (small) bed in the middle garden, as it now looks silly without the tree, and what to I put on the tree site, I wonder? Ooooooooo…..

  3. Dobby

    Love the throne. And a lovely footstal for your tiny feet.
    The logs I am burning at the moment are cedar. They were very heavy when they arrived and very pink. But as they have dried the pink has toned down a tad. They give off wonderful heat. You should be very happy over the winter.

    1. kate Post author

      You’re burning logs now? NOW? While we’re having Summer?

      They’ll take some time to season, but I’m Ok for logs for the next couple of years, which is a good feeling…

  4. Janet/Plantaliscious

    That is a fabulous collection of logs, and you are quite right, your tree balance is most definitely in credit, no Ent problems. I imagine the space created by the Great Felling must change the feel of the garden quite dramatically, very exciting. As to people who sneak around banging copper nails into trees, nowadays you are more likely to get people chopping down trees to see if they can find any copper nails, copper prices being what they are! Barbaric. Funny how these stories get propagated though. My next door neighbour is convinced that ivy kills trees and wants me to rip it off the sycamore on the boundary between our properties.

    I can see why you want to get rid of the throne though…

    1. kate Post author

      You’re quite right; the whole garden is transformed, and I’m planning more radical actions now I’ve seen what going for it can do… not sure if I’m brave enough, mind, as they involve some removal of a strange blobby hedge and some of the rosa rugosa – I could be creating another wind tunnel.

      Hadn’t thought of that aspect to copper and trees – not resigning from work just yet, as we found nothing. Presumably lower down the stump. Better keep buying those lottery tickets instead.

    1. kate Post author

      I suspect the Welsh fairy was an irate neighbour, alas. Just after the First World War…

      The throne is completely wet at the moment, as we seem to be in November. Grrrr.

  5. elizabethm

    I love the pictures of the logs and all the cut wood. It is indeed a very beautiful colour. Would love to know if you can get any dye from it in any way. Also love the view. It was definitely the right decision, hard though it is to get rid of any tree, and your tree count is exceptionally high. You could probably get rid of a few more without arousing the Ents.

    1. kate Post author

      The colour is changing all the time – the throne (still there but on borrowed time as Mr Tree Surgeon Man is coming round with his chainsaw) is now a deep orange. And so is the seat of my jeans, ahem…

      Yeah, definitely the right decision. The reality of it throws out all my theoretical ideas of what I was going to do, though.


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