Wednesday, December 5, 2018
Elegy for a Cypress
Our next door neighbor has long had a gigantic leylandii cypress at the back of her property, shielding her garden from the prying eyes of the apartment dwellers on the next street over. I couldn't estimate the height of the tree, because I'm bad at that kind of thing, but when I say huge I mean HUGE. It was definitely an effective screen, not only for her garden, but for ours.
In storms it would creak and groan ominously in the wind, but it never showed any signs of breakage and appeared to be quite strong. It would have been disastrous if it blew down, because it seemed big enough to hit a building no matter which direction it fell. I think it could have even hit our house.
Still, I loved the tree because it was always a hive of wildlife activity. We'd hear squabbles among pigeons and squirrels among the dense green foliage, and I'm pretty sure that's where I heard the owl a few years ago. I said to Dave several times, "I hope she never takes that tree down, because a million critters live in it."
You see where this is going.
Yesterday I walked out to the garden with my cereal, as I often do, and as I was wandering around looking at our winter-stunted plants I glanced up and saw that many of the tree's branches had been stripped off (top photo). This must have occurred while we were at work, because we never heard a thing. Last night, when we got home, the entire tree was gone.
Leyland cypresses apparently grow very fast, and can be a source of neighborhood disputes because they get so big and dense relatively quickly. I've always thought that tree must be very old, but maybe not.
In any case, the critters will miss it. The neighbor did everything right by taking it down now, rather than in nesting season, and I know the apartment people didn't like the tree. One of them came knocking on our door a couple of years ago asking if it was ours, and last summer I overheard the neighbor talking to a visitor on her patio about what a problem it was. I think its roots may have been harming the retaining wall between the neighbor's garden and the apartments, but that's just my suspicion. In any case, I knew its days were numbered, and I don't blame her for having it removed.
But I'm still sorry to see it go.
It will be interesting to watch how this changes the microclimate of our own garden. It ought to be much sunnier now, and maybe windier, too. We'll see!