What do you do on a fine but cold Monday, when the list of absolutely vital garden jobs covers two sheets of A4? (Apart from go shopping, that is.) I had the answer: you have fun with chainsaws. And ropes.
I’ve three ash trees in my garden, and I’m staying off the whole subject of ash die-back here because I don’t want to throw my laptop through the window. The one in the middle garden needed a lot of work a few years ago, but the two at the top have only really been pecked at, and have started worrying me in high winds, when they’re inclined to drop branches. Any work has to be carefully timed and scheduled in the gap following the meadow trim, but before any of the bulbs so much as sticks a tiny pointed shoot above ground. Perfect right now, in fact. Time for major surgery.
(Plus, of course, it gives some people the chance to do what they really enjoy: play with power tools. And, in a fine bit of gender stereotyping during one pause, my friend and I fiddled with the 1936 sewing machine I’ve just bought while the boys talked petrol strimmers.)
Still life with chainsaw?
One advantage of not using a tree surgeon for jobs like this is that you get all the brash and the finer branches – stuff that a tree surgeon would shred. I do appreciate the chippings after Mr Tree Surgeon Man has been round, but I’ve got four builders’ rubble sacks full from the cedar and I don’t really need any more, handy though they are. But while having the smaller stuff is extremely useful in terms of extra logs for the stove and humungous amounts of kindling, it is also a lot of work for the Support Team (when they’re not talking sewing machines).
I’d not realised exactly how sexually determined yesterday’s tasks were until I started writing this post… Hm. What would Sylvia Pankhurst, Virginia Woolf, Betty Frieidan or Gloria Steinem do? Probably not bowsaw their thumb, as I did. Bet Virginia never went anywhere near a bowsaw (though I think Vita Sackville-West could have been useful to have around, probably also fine with power tools). It’s fine, thanks. Just stopped bleeding, nearly 24 hours later. Memo to self: wear gloves. Wear gloves. Wear gloves. Ahem.
But it was worth it. My friends disappeared with multiple sacks of wood and kindling (and there’s more but we ran out of sacks, so they’re coming back); my own wood heap has been beautifully augmented,
and that’s just the smaller stuff. There are lots of good big branches, some of which were rather interesting to retrieve from inside the biggest skimmia on the planet – in the foreground below – awkwardly growing around the base of one of the ashes. This involved a lot of strange movement in the skimmia without any apparent source, as the log pushers were completely obscured by foliage. So the skimmia got a bit damaged? It can take it, as can I, and at least it isn’t going around with a stupid huge plaster on its thumb (not sure about that image; I think I need more coffee).
The disadvantage of doing a job like is that there are some parts of it that you just cannot do yourself, and one of my ashes is now extremely tall and too close to power lines.
I overruled protestations about this (though they subsided quite quickly once P actually got up in the tree and realised how high he would have to climb, and how close the branches are to the power lines – ‘does this supply all of the village?’) and called Mr Tree Surgeon Man again. So the job isn’t quite finished, but it’s been enough to delight one of my neighbours up the hill who popped round (and coincidentally offered to take some of the timber off my hands). He’d never seen the beach from his house before.
Given the speed ashes grow, I’d take the pictures now. Or maybe he should just wait until ash die-back hits west Wales. Hmm. Where’s my laptop?
PS: Just back from doc – tetanus jab. Ironic, really, that I should have spent all that time worrying about blokes hanging on to trees by their fingernails while holding chainsaws in their teeth, but the only person who got hurt was this idiot. Still, it made the nurses at the surgery laugh…. again.