Saturday, 19 July 2014

Hey honey, I cut down the tree....

Now for a while I've been pondering the heinous crime which is that of actually cutting down a tree. Having lived in the lands of Orkney for a goodly while, its become inherent that love them or hate them, trees live and should not be cut down. If they've survived the climate I'd say they're welcome to a long happy life. So its been a while in the mulling and a long heartfelt ponder that's lead to the current crime scene. This tree whilst not yet dead, is certainly muchly reduced in height.  (Above tree height currently, below tree height not too long ago.) The Laburnum appears to be about 60 years old, if my ring counting is correct.
Why you ask would I be so cruel as to cut down a tree enroute for its pension at 60 years? Its honestly NOT because I have a wood fire fettish (although we know that's true). Its not that I have an underused chainsaw either.  Quite simply unfortunately for it, poor soon to be ex, rather short tree, it was merely the wrong type tree in the wrong type of place. Hardly a crime I hear you cry. Nope its not a crime but unfortunately this poor tree was a Laburnum anagyroidies.
These trees are one of the most toxic you'll find in any garden the whole plant is very toxic, more so the tiny seeds, even I washed my hands after handling, its that horrid. We all grow poisonous plants and don't get me wrong I'll live with heart stopping foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) and the wolf killing Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) because I can avoid eating them. I admit I try and keep my temper with toxic plants especially when vexed, its not clever to kill loved ones with flowers, even if you really feel like it at the time, it generally passes, its true, I've experience of this. And, dear hearts, they always look to the gardener first in the classic case of a poisoning. However, with something as toxic as a Laburnum, living with it is fine if you've a spot under which you don't use and no children lurking about who might try and eat the seeds.
Potting shed and Laburnum flowers, not a great combo.
My children never ate anything toxic in the garden, lets face it sometimes its a struggle to get kids to eat peas never mind tiny black seeds. But, I'd never recommend it in a family garden that's for sure the whole plant is incredibly toxic and the toxic chemical is uber concentrated in the seeds of the tree. If you've got one and live with it in relative harmony, good on ya but its certainly NOT on the list for children-friendly gardens. Yellow also clashed with my shed and its bunting. So not cool. I'm not a fan of yellow plants, never have been and quite frankly you can't make me either. Give me a guady purple any day than yellow. Remember the poor senecio bush, its long gone too, its only crime, yellow flowers. Its long gone.
Manchild in apple tree. Teenager and garden as one.
These days, with one child in New Zealand (yes my cooking is THAT bad) and one permanently usb'd into his computer (or sometimes making it as far as the family hammock), I'm not too worried about the 'kids' eating the seeds. I'm not too sure they know what 'outside' looks like or how to 'interface' with it either. However, this garden whilst ample is in dire need of a decent sized chicken run. The most logical place for it is under the Laburnum tree. Chickens, whilst adorable are not the most clued up in Botany 101 so they'll have no clue that the seeds are toxic, just that there are plenty of them unfoot to scoff. Can you see where this is going?  They can't live on the terrace, whilst its ample and they'd be delightful as LinneW has mentioned previously the chooks in my life have a tendency to come indoors. And if they were on the terrace, I'd be inviting them to have a seat a while on the sofa. Probably not that helpful to them or me.
So, honey with a sad heart, I cut down the tree. It still hurts me to think of cutting down such a lovely specimen but it went and quietly limb by limb not even a tear did it shed. The debris is half way through being cleared up. I'll have to remove all the foliage and get rid of it elsewhere as its not even very easy to compost. I certainly don't want to be spreading the seeds about the garden. So slowly but surely each branch is defoliated, by hand. Unless anyone has a 'laburnum leaf stripper' they can lend. No? I'll crack on then.
So the leaves and seeds head off to the local amenity site where their hot composting processed will likely kill the toxic chemicals. In most frugal (absolutely insane) style - I've stripped each tiny branch off and chopped those to dry as kindling. I know I could buy kindling, that would certainly be easier than hand stripping a tree but lets face it this stuff is free and that leaves my pennies for fruit trees to replace the Laburnum.
The larger branches I'll keep for some jousting, or similar pastime. Caber tossing I think might be a bit too much for them if we have our own mini-highland games.......there's a thought. Toss the Laburnum. Has a nice ring to it don't you think?
The larger limbs will be stored, dried and split into logs..........
I've started on that, but most of the larger branches are still 'under leaf and seed' so the pile will increase slowly. Why bother you ask. Why not ship the lot to the skip. Well, wood is wood, seeds or not. So if I have to get rid of the vegetation, so be it. A wee task before we can stoke up the stove, but worth it. And the wood of Laburnums is particularly good for burning, so at least its final use will be a productive one.
Laburnum seeds are the source of a chemical so chemically close to nicotine that a derivative of its seeds are used as an anti-smoking drug. If I'd a mind I'd whip up a cure to smoking in the potting shed using the seeds and probably an old demi-john, some garden hose and a paraffin heater. I mean how hard can it be to make drugs in your shed....... However, I'd rather do this type of smoking instead, the one in the cooker which helps feed us.  Today it made sausages. I like a cooker that provides home made sausages don't you?
Photo: Home made sausages for brekkie! Hands up....
So the trees down, sad times but onwards to the new chicken coup and fruit orchard which they'll live under. This is to be a productive garden after all. Sad that a tree is down but we'll plant plenty to replace it. First though a lot of debris to clear up. Chooks are quite excited. Yes really that's Rose's excited face. Three weeks, 91 eggs later, the girls are guaranteed a place 'somewhere' in the garden! And, who ever heard of a chicken laying yellow eggs, no I tell you, they're safe.
Photo: Mrs Rose needing a few more chest feathers then shes pucka.
Did the hounds help too, I hear you cry?  Aye right. They know better than to interfere when I've a chainsaw in my paws and they don't actually do 'manual' work. Bad for their nails. Guess I'm on my own then. Although I see him plenty when the stove provides sausages, what's that all about?
Photo: Honestly could he be anymore chilled? Peedies weekend begins.
Peedie staying 'safe' and guarding the homestead whilst the tree was chopped.


  1. Excellent chainsaw usage. Fancy a trip to Anglesey? We have a very messy sycamore that is surplus to requirements. We have a large number of bags of kindling that were generated by similar patience. A satisfying use of time, I say!

    1. Anytime Janet! We've three poplars in the back that have been very badly pollarded. I'm building up to getting those down but they're beasts and I'm a tad scared.

      Home grown sticks, always good!

  2. Oh I loved the 'muchly reduced in height' and all the rest too! I agree hugely about sacred don't-cut-'em-down treeness but you made a good case Ms Perry Mason, about the reasons to take exception here, and then we so agree about wood fires and frugality too. But I am greatly relieved that you won't be making drugs in the potting shed because if you go to prison who's to feed the terriers sausage?? So take care and if you want to whack more come on over, I have a lilac and a crowded apple that both need to go.

    1. LinneW nice to see you. I'll endeavour to stop, erm I mean I won't make drugs in the shed. The dogs are a worry. And the chickens. Although the chicken in training (Greta, she wants to be alone) chases the dogs. I'm sure she's not read her chicken manual correctly.

      One day I will make it to your fine lands. I'm sure a wee chainsaw in my bag won't bother the customs man.

  3. I do agree that it's such a shame to cut down a tree, but I guess safety is everyone's top priority, so a toxic tree must definitely go. I still love your humorous take on everything, though, like with the probability of your kid eating those toxic seeds and them interfacing with the outside. It really cracked me up. Hahaha! You even got yourself some kindling and firewood in the process, so I guess it isn't all bad. Anyway, I hope everyone is doing fine this season! Thanks for sharing!

    Melva Ullman @ MPDT