The Value of Mature Trees

As a general rule, I don’t get a lot of time to sit around and admire anything–especially this time of year.  But a long-ish car trip recently and a rainy day spent reading the paper on my sun porch made me appreciate all the more the value of trees (or certainly the many trees we have left after last October’s mangling of our canopy!)

Out of state visitors often remark how lush Connecticut is in the summer.  In fact, my sister, who only visits at Christmas time, usually, came to stay for a month one July.  She drove out and was using our law library to research and write.   She remarked at the time that she thought she knew her way around–but in the summer the trees blocked all the street signs so it was much harder to navigate. (Obviously this was before the prevalence of GPS–but she still prefers paper maps!)

Even this year, after so much destruction from last October’s storm, if you approach my street from the west and are not familiar with it, you will drive right by and have to make a U or K-turn to go back (as I’ve seen drivers do when I am walking the dog) because the street signs are completely obscured by foliage.

In those instances, trees perhaps aren’t so valuable.  But Sunday, before the day turned stormy, I was out doing some weeding (a lovely contemplative job if you have the time for it) and I could hear and see all the birds on the property.  This is where the value of a mature tree canopy comes in.

Even though we lost that one Mama Robin to the Red Tailed hawk earlier this year, another has managed to fledge this little guy.  I see her and the little fledgling all over the property.  In this case, it was just learning to fly and could barely make it from the compromised dogwood to the roof of my car and back again.  I know that they will be back next year (if they both survive, since a Robin’s life in the wild is perilously short–less than 2 years).

In a large yew that the deer seem somehow to ignore, we have another nest of robin babies. There are either 2 or 3  very young ones.  I haven’t wanted to get too close. I don’t like disturbing the wildlife.  When the parents come in to feed I’ve definitely seems two heads pop up very clearly and I may have seen a third.

In our wren house, another generation of young wrens is happily cheeping away, calling for its parents to bring them food.  That’s a closed nest box so I never have any idea how many wrens fledge from there but wrens use it every year.  That’s in our dogwood that was so badly damaged in the storm.

And even though it was damaged, lots of birds are still using the dogwood to perch and sing–catbirds, robins, blue jays and the wrens, of course.  All week a mother blue jay has been showing 3 fledglings around our yard, scolding me raucously if I came too near.  She seems to prefer that dogwood, but I’ve seen her in my perennial garden and in our wooded lot as well.

There again, since blue jays usually stay as a family group, I expect to have all 4 of those birds near me for the next year or so, should they survive.

And when I’m sitting alone, pulling weeds for hours on end, there’s nothing like the company of the birds and the rustle of wind through tree leaves.  That’s all the company I need!

2 thoughts on “The Value of Mature Trees

  1. Bridget June 9, 2012 / 8:43 am

    I think the Deer avoid the Yew because it is poisonous. I love having trees around the house, but not so near as to be a danger. They give great protection from wind too.

    • gardendaze June 9, 2012 / 9:09 am

      Hi Bridget,
      Yew is poisonous to humans but not deer (isn’t that weird?). Around here, they encourage us to plant cephalotaxus or plum yew instead.

      And yes, trees around the house are a mixed blessing. These were here when my husband purchased. And since the house is 50+ years old, the trees are at least that old. They provide shade and cooling in the summer so I’m reluctant to take them down unless they are diseased. But of course as that freak October snow showed last year, trees can turn ugly. Thanks for reading!


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