So Long Beautiful Maple Tree

One of the major casualties in my garden this year was an 18 year old branched Freeman Maple that was one of the anchors of the backyard.

Multi stemmed Freeman Maple Autumn Blaze

When we moved in about 20 years ago, along the side property line was a row of very scraggly Siberian Elms that were nearing the end of their life spans and dangerously dropping large branches in every wind storm.  We decided to remove those and put in a specimen tree.  The maple provided great shade and was surrounded by a hosta and fern garden.


Last winter/spring, we had a couple of things happen on that side of the yard that likely contributed to the demise of this beautiful tree.  First was the unusually cold winter we had.  There were a lot of garden casualties reported in the Chicago blogging world and I had a few also, including some yews and grasses.


But, the maple looked fine as spring came, sending out buds, leaves and seeds.

Multi stemmed Freeman Maple Autumn Blaze


Multi stemmed Freeman Maple Autumn Blaze

It was also so established that it really should have survived just fine and no other maples in the area looked as though they were struggling.

Then in early April, in preparation for the house next door being torn down for new construction, all the trees were removed leaving a barren and swampy lot for weeks.  It was really a mess.

stephi gardens

Because of the heavy equipment, the poor soil was compressed further and the natural neighborhood water drainage was disturbed.  Then came the spring rains on top of already saturated soil.

stephi gardens

stephi gardens

The Mallard Ducks don’t mind the situation at all. Neither did the breeding toads who hummed loudly all spring.

Stephi Gardens

Unfortunately for our tree, it was right next to the property line and probably suffered the consequences of root damage.  So adding together the stress of the winter and the stress of the standing water, it led to the death of the tree by mid summer.  It never put out any more leaves and just looked frozen in time.

Multi stemmed Freeman Maple Autumn Blaze

We finally had to have it taken down, and now need to decide what to do in the area.   The hostas and ferns were a bit sunburned by the new situation, but they’ll be fine.  We’re reluctant to replace it yet, not knowing what the new neighbors might plan for their landscaping.  So in the meantime, we’re in a bit of a holding pattern trying to make the best of it.

The good news is that as part of the construction, they have fixed and enhanced the drainage in the area, so further flooding shouldn’t be an issue going forward, and should actually be markedly improved.  Maybe I won’t be needing to be wearing my rain boots to trudge around the yard so often anymore (see “My New Rain Boots“)

We have worked so hard to protect our ash tree (Attack of the Emerald Ash Borer: Part 1 and Part 2).  Who would have thought the maple would be the one to die first???

So much has changed for us with the construction next store.  Some we’ve prepared for, some will be a work in progress.  It’ll be a while until it’s all sorted out. I’ll be writing about some of it in the weeks ahead.  Have you had events in your yard that completely change the landscaping?

Multi stemmed Freeman Maple Autumn Blaze

I’ll miss the great fall color!


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