a tree grows [and falls] in florida

We moved into this house in January 2000. It was a new subdivision and had very few trees. In fact, the only trees were the small ones planted in the front yard of each home.

Our back yard faces southeast so it gets the sun all day. I knew I wanted and needed trees in the back. Our neighbor, Lisa, grew up in Florida. I asked her what kind of shade tree would be best, and grow fast. She suggested magnolias. I read some information and it suggested camphor trees. I called around to some nurseries and found that most were out of magnolias. Hollies had some smaller ones and we took a drive to look.

Hollies was a great find. The staff is so knowledgable and friendly. They had a lot of area where my boys could happily wander about. I asked about the magnolias and found that they were expensive, did not grow fast and were not good shade trees. The camphor trees? They were aggressive and not kind to the native Florida plants. They suggested elms. Elms? Aren't they all gone? These were a diiferent variety that did not succumb to the Dutch Elm disease. Also, the leaves were small and would disappear into the grass and not require raking. I had them install 2 and I had them placed about 15' apart so Gail could string his hammock in about 20 years.

(summer 2002)

I was good to the trees. Each day I watered them as directed. After a month, I began to wean them from their daily water. They didn't die but they didn't thrive either. When I planted the jasmine, I was told "The first year they sleep, the second year they creep ans the third year they leap." I think this may apply to the elms. They trees took a few years to sleep and establish their roots. Soon enough they did grow and provide some shade.

I wanted more trees. I picked up 2 red tip maple trees for $10 each. They were little more than sapplings. But they grew. I also spent a heafty sum on a ligustrum which is technically a shrub but can be trained as a tree like the one I got.

By 2003, the drought eased up a bit but there were some people who still watered everyday. My neighbor behind me was one. And his yard is a bit higher than mine because they goofed when they built his pool. I complained to the builder by writing a letter. I complained to the county about their watering habits. The county came out and fined me because I was watering on one of my off days. I had new plants and it is allowed. However, I would have to go to court to fight it and the appointed day was during our vacation. I paid the fine. Meanwhile, the neighbors constant watering killed one of my elms and one of maples. My symmetry was gone! The balance was off! grr

(summer 2004)

Hurricane Francis managed to tilt the remaining elm. My dad shored it up and it didn't seem to mind as it continued to grow.



(summer 2007)

My dad has to replace the support a couple of times as the elm outgrew them. Other elms in the neighborhood fell to the same fate. This past winter we had to remove the playhouse as the tree was leaning on it for support. Once again, my dad re-braced the tree.

(spring 2009)

Wednesday, May 13, we got our first storm of the year. It was earlier than our typical summer storms. And much stronger. The winds were fierce and the rain horizontal. The yard was flooded.

Thursday morning and the yard was still under water. Ryan went out to jump on the trampoline. I glanced up and saw the tree covering a third of the trampoline. I took some photos with my point & shoot, it being at hand. It was too wet for me to go out and check on the roots at the time. I did check later and the roots are still buried. Chris is going to come and check on it and decide the best action. (I told him it was a rush but it's been about 10 days.)



I hate that we have spent 9 years with this tree and we might will lose it.