This is not about what you probably think based on the above heading. We just had the worst storm-related damage that we've experienced in our garden since we started creating it in 1997. This view of the driveway — after we'd spent the better part of two days clearing it out — gives you an idea of the volume of snow we had.
As a result of the Dec. 20th snowstorm, a 60-year-old Austrian pine came down and took out two other trees — the mainstays of my most successful shade garden, formerly known as The Sacred Grove. I won't know how much shade I still have in this garden until Spring when the snow is gone and we can really assess the damage. We are pretty sure that a lot of evergreen shrubs were affected as well.
Sixteen inches of wet, heavy snow with high winds, falling branches and trees played havoc in almost every area of the garden. Not to mention the utility guys clomping around repairing the wires the trees took down. The snow was lovely when you weren't hearing the branches as they broke.
Our Pagoda dogwood, planted just off the deck in 1997, suffered at least four major broken branches in the center of the tree. After pruning, it will really have that wedding cake look; actually more like a cake with a layer missing!
A big old lilac had its limbs tossed all over the garden. If you didn't know better you would think it was the top of a shrub buried in the snow instead of the top of a tree.
The evergreen tree in the center of the picture below is an Austrian pine, one of a group of three that were all planted around the time the house was built in 1954. This one lost its leader early on and a secondary branch clearly took over as the new leader. The positive result was a wonderful curving silhouette that added a nice visual punch to the garden.
The negative result is the fact that this growth pattern weakened the tree and made it susceptible to twisting — and breaking — in December's big storm, as you can in the picture below. This image was taken the day after the worst of the snow. Look closely and you can see the break in the trunk in the right side of the picture about 8-10' above ground.
This next picture gives a clearer view of the damage. It was taken from the same location as the photo above but a couple of weeks later, after Mark and a friend had done some pruning and much of the snow had melted. You can see how the trunk is secured by ropes to a neighboring tree. This is to keep is from dropping on a Pagoda dogwood that is growing beneath it.
Amazingly the tree did not damage the fence and gate since its many branches kept most of the tree elevated above ground, hinged in place where the trunk had not completely broken.
Mark took the following shot from the ladder and it gives you a view of the bare trunks of the 15-year-old Washington Hawthorn that the pine took out when it fell. This area is planted with ferns, Hellebores, primroses, dwarf conifers and on and on. The loss of the pine, the Hawthorne and a Magnolia sieboldii may spell the end for this garden which faces south but was always nicely shaded.
Mark bought the orange sled to haul the branches and logs down to the curb where the city told residents to pile their storm debris to have it picked up. After he finished hauling brush over a number of days, he sat down and slid down the 200' of sloping paths he'd created from the back garden down to the curb.
Our lot is about 100' feet wide and the debris from our downed trees was piled the width of it and about 3' deep. We watched the city worker picking it all up with big claws on the end of an articulated arm and dropping everything into his big dump-type truck. Mark went out to thank him for his great work and he was really taken aback. Folks are more likely to complain than compliment him, he said. He also noted that he lives outside Madison and that folks in his community don't get the kind of municipal services we have in Madison. We pay a lot in taxes in Madison but we definitely get Cadillac services, worth every penny.