Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Cherry Tree

When we rented our first plot in 2009, we inherited this beautiful sour cherry tree.
It shaded 2/3 of our garden and produced very few cherries that went entirely to the birds, but I loved that tree. The blossoms in the spring were gorgeous and the shade gave us a cool, comfy space to rest in the garden.

I had garden parties under that tree, did yoga and lounged on a straw bale couch under it. I decorated it with scarves and hung mobiles from its branches. Sadly, sometime during the winter of 2010, two main branches came down. We informed the garden coordinator to have the branches removed and some city workers came and took the whole tree down.

The ADG and I were devastated. We had hoped that the remaining tree could have been saved and were so sad to see the whole thing gone. All last summer the stump reminded us of our loss. We tried to take comfort in the fact that we had a lot more sunshine to work with now, but it wasn't much consolation. Not knowing what to do with the space around the stump, it became weedy and overgrown.
Then the stump started suckering like mad. Soon it became a thicket of suckers that looked really unattractive. This spring I cut them all back, but left one that had grown quite large. I don't know a lot about tree growth, but I wondered if the sucker could be encouraged to grow into a new cherry tree. With hope, I began to think about what I could do with the space around the stump to make it look better and turn it into a productive area. Then when I saw what my permaculture teachers Bonita and Sebastian had done around a maple tree they had cut down I knew that I had my plan!

I basically copied their method, adapting to the conditions and materials on hand. After aerating the soil around the stump, I put down layers of paper, added some compost and coffee grounds on top. Then I mulched with leaves and straw.

Because there were already a few plants established that I wanted to keep, I mulched around them. There are two clumps of daylilies, a patch of sweet woodruff, stinging nettles, tansy and coreopsis. There is one little waterleaf that has been struggling from the exposure to the sun that I'm hoping will perk up and survive in this new setup. Finally we ringed the bed with the branches of the cherry tree that had been cut down.

I'm super pleased with the results and I'm excited to plant more things into the bed. I'm very interested in seeing what happens to the cherry sucker. It's got lots of buds on it and if it comes into bloom I'll be very happy. With luck this space will once again provide beauty, shelter and shade in the garden!


Urban Girl said...

That is a really upsetting loss. It looked beautiful and created such a great space. Can't wait to see how the new bed and plants grow!

- Katherine

Amber said...

I miss the cherry tree. I felt really guilty for a long time afterwards too, wondering if it was something I had done!

But I'm excited now to see what happens in this new space.

Artizan said...

I suspect you will have a fine tree in a few years. We have been encouraging a youngish maple that suffered a terrible sun scaled to sucker. In a year or two we will cut the main trunk down and let the best sucker take over. Best of luck!

Amber said...

Oh thank you so much for sharing your experience! That's really encouraging to hear. Our little cherry sucker seems to be thriving really well, although I haven't noticed any blossoms on it. Hope your maple grows up straight and true. :)

sherry said...

Hi Amber,
I have a silly question but where did you get your straw? I have a small urban garden in Westboro, I've pulled out all the grass and planted vegetables and flowers like crazy but don't have anything good to mulch with. Would you recommend straw? I don't really care for garden centre bags of mulch...