Monday, May 11, 2009

Barking Up the Wrong Tree


We have a very large, very old black walnut tree in our yard. My husband has hated this tree for years. Normally, George loves trees; I mean he has planted trees and cared for trees. When the sole dogwood in our front yard started to go after a particularly terrible ice storm a few years back he used herculean methods that winter to try to save it and shed a few tears when it died anyway. But the black walnut tree is another story.

There are a couple problems with this particular black walnut tree. Its dripline is over our roof and it drops gigantic green 'fruit' (you need to run these babies over with your car to crack them open) every fall. I am sure this tree is one of the reasons we have so many squirrels (another of hubby's nemesis lately since he is convinced they are getting into the garage out back and eating into our gas cans and lawnmower gas caps - no idea why our squirrels or maybe one particular squirrel would want to do this, but George is convinced).

Every time George has to go up on the roof, which believe me is surprisingly often considering the terrible state our gutters are in - what he does up there I have no idea - he gripes and complains for days about the pits in the roof left by these fruit. When we replaced our roof a couple years back, George tried to get that roofer to agree with him and tell me that this black walnut tree needed to be cut back; way, way back, like into the last century kind of back. Fortunately, the roofer could see that he was stepping into a little domestic landmine and safely did not choose sides.

The other problem with a black walnut tree is that it emits a certain poison that restricts the growth of some plants which are planted within 75 feet of it; these plants include tomatoes and peppers which are our favorite vegetables to grow. Now, we didn't know this for a long time. We had a couple summers of wilted vegetables before we realized the problem was the nearby black walnut tree and George, being very stubborn and slow to reach forgiveness still begrudges the tree those missed seasons.

Now that we are trying to grow as much of our own food as we can, he is trying to use this to turn me against the tree (even though we have enough yard to avoid this area and the solution of raised beds in this area is very do-able also). We both know that I am the only thing standing between that tree and the chain saw which he does not get to use nearly as often as he would like to. For a man who likes to build things- he really likes to unbuild them.

There are many things working against his ever swaying me to do anything about this tree. First of all this tree provides lots of backyard privacy between our house and our nearest neighbor (privacy is not a word my husband really understands but something I will not give away willingly). Its nuts attract the squirrels that I do not see as pests but as outdoor pets (how would Olive spend her afternoons if she was not chasing squirrels?). And the new firehouse being built across the street from our house has resulted in so many trees being cut down that I have wept openly and often (once so out of control I had to call upon my inner Norwegian to get a grip on myself) for their loss.

So when hubby starts griping again about this "problem" that we need to do something about - which although I am no home improvement expert I hardly see as our biggest "problem" around here- (I mean, I don't think most people have to mow their asphalt driveways and most fence gates probably do not need to be lifted and twisted in a certain sequence of about fourteen steps, that only a handful of people on the planet could ever possibly remember, to get them to latch as ours has since the Clinton administration) when he starts to gripe - I will just tell him he is barking up the wrong tree.

Through Thursday May 14th get a free pair of matching earrings with any necklace purchase from either of my shops Uncorked or Polarity by writing Black Walnut Tree, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, Annoying Husband or some such something in the comments to seller section of your order.

A. SnappingTwig - Walnut Light Photograph
1. GollyBard - Logs Print
2. LydiaLayne - Large Tree of Life Necklace
3. GetReadySetGo - Upcycled Train Case
4. Larimeloom - Olive V Neck
5. UnderGlass - Twisted Oak Necklace
6. BareTree - Woodland Green Cap
7. 3BeesDesign - Tree Baby Quilt

6 comments:

UnaOdd -Lynn said...

Oh honey...I feel for both of you. I've had a love/hate with our black walnut for many years. You can crack the nuts...use a bench vise. :^) Bake him a black walnut pound cake and maybe he'll come around.
Underplant with hostas. They tolerate the juglone just fine. Astilbe do well too.

holly aka golly said...

We have had our share of tree issue over the years, though not Black Walnuts - aka - ankle breakers. We had a ginko at our old house, when you stepped on the fruit it smells like vomit. Such a pretty leaf but the berries stink!

Debi said...

very funny- I see both points of view- twisted my ankle on one a few years ago- ugh!

Ureshii said...

I know how messy these trees can be, but to have a year's worth of delicious walnuts is totally worth it. I rented a place one winter that had one, and we collected up the nuts. We stored them the way the neighbours told us to, and by Christmas we had bowlfuls ready to eat. My little bro was fighting cancer at the time, and he was completely hooked on them. Black walnut is a powerful healer - we like to have the tincture on hand for all sorts of things. Definitely a tree worth defending :)

IfiHadaHammer said...

You should tell him to consider himself lucky. Living in the desert in a newer area my weeping cherry in the front yard is 3 1/2 ft tall, and my Globe willow in the back is a spindle that measures 6ft tall. I wish I had a big tree that gave us some shade and brought us some squirrles! We do have rabbits though!

lyptis said...

Thats funny, very entertaining read!

Poor tree and its not really funny.., but u know what i mean!:) Keep us posted on the developments!