Well, this winter, the leaning trunk split and twisted near the base, and the whole bole arched slowly downwards over the course of a few weeks until the crown of that tree rested on the ground. Oddly, this side of the tree blossomed and turned as green and leafy this spring as ever, but the other trunk, which hadn't moved, almost completely died.
My Dad likes things neat and tidy, so he was all for sawing the tree up instantly and hauling it out, but I liked the shape of the tree on the ground, and together Mom and I convinced him to wait until I got home this summer. This weekend, we started the nurse log project.
Dad and I cut down the upstanding dead trunk first, and sawed all the smaller branches off and hauled them up the driveway. We left the trunk and some of the larger limbs intact. Then we went to the living, arching trunk and cut most of the branches from that, so except for a volunteer sprouting from the base, the tree is effectively dead. Those small branches were hauled away as well. Dad spent most of yesterday breaking this big airy contorted branches into smaller sticks, making a more compact pile of wood. I'm trying to convince him to compost it instead of hauling it to the dump. I miss this tree already.
Then, with the help of Jason, his friend John, and his friend Michael, the five of us hauled the cut bole under the arched bole. So we have one mossy, contorted tree trunk on the ground, and one mossy contorted tree trunk arching over it. It's really beautiful.
Dad and I went out to get the plants for it yesterday. We picked out two evergreen clematis plants (which will have large, fragarant white flowers) to climb up the arched trunk. At each clematis, we planted a small varigated willow bush to help shade the roots (Salix integra), and an additional willow at one end of the fork. Although Flower World didn't have lupine, Sky Nursery did (!!), so we bought three of those and I planted them around the fallen trunk. They're cultivated lupines, not wild, so I don't think they'll be purple. I think they'll be pink or peach or yellow or white, but we won't know until they bloom.
I planted two little daylilies on either side of a rock in front. I planted two new bleeding heart bushes, one along the fallen trunk and one at the base of the arched trunk. I also planted four tall purple delphiniums, and two candelabra primroses. Finally, we planted a new tree...a Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus, which is lovely, smells great, and is making lots of bees happy.
I think that's all of them. It's going to look fantastic. I wanted to plant some ferns, but I think the spot is too sunny. I might be able to get away with some little ones planted in the tiny space under the fallen trunk and the ground, though. We'll see. We also hung a new birdfeeder from the arched trunk, and the crows have already been using the tree as a perch. I love it. I was so excited all day, and this is such a cool solution. I hope it works out. It was a sad goodbye and a happy beginning.