Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Hunger Games Killed Our Cherry Tree

Weeping cherry, April 2013
If you have been reading my posts, you've seen our shed with the weeping cherry tree in front of it.  The year we moved in it was gorgeous, but it has declined, to the point where the last few leaves on it are withering right now. Now all my regular readers are mumbling, "It's the deer, isn't it?"  It is not the deer. Young Adult fiction killed our weeping cherry tree.

I can hear the."Huh's?" already, but let me explain.  I think it is cool that kids coming of age now have stories that they can relate to, with interesting themes and even strong female characters, but I think a couple of these books need a guidebook to go along with them, specifically, The Hunger Games.  My daughter and her friends role play Hunger Games in the yard, at first I was horrified.  They were playing a game that involved killing all the other players, but then I started listening and watching. They climb trees, form alliances, make tools and weapons from what they find lying around.  I love the fact that most of it is about forming alliances and working together, but the one part that bothers me is one that interests me the most.  The ethnobotany side of things, how people use plants in their lives.  I've found little boxes of plant material tucked into nooks in the yard, a few berries, various leaves and bark, which leads me to my weeping cherry issue.

 Last year I noticed that it wasn't looking quite as nice and wondered if the very hot dry summer damaged it, but upon closer inspection I realized it certainly wasn't the weather. In three places along the trunk of the tree the bark has been peeled back 95% of the way around.
Weeping cherry July 17, 2014

What is left of the leaves.

Three bare strips

Little handles to facilitate girdling.
Gaping wound
  The tree has been girdled. The only part of the trunk that is truly living is the outer layers, which convey the water and minerals/nutrients up to the branches and leaves. It is a sad thing.  It was a beautiful tree, it is no longer.  We'll cut it down and plant some new tree, it is disappointing.

When I showed my daughter, she was horrified, of course she swore that she had nothing to do with it, and maybe she didn't.  We've had so many kids over playing the game that it could have been anyone and what could we do about it now or even fifteen minutes after the damage was done?  Now it is time to figure out what beautiful tree can take it's place and to figure out the logistics of getting the tree down while not damaging the shed, chicken run or anything else nearby.

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