Category Archives: The Trees Of Maple Hoo

The Trees Of Maple Hoo: Black Locust Edition

When we first moved into Maple Hoo, the front yard was perhaps the most boring, ugly front yard you could imagine. It was a swath of average-looking grass, the average suburban evergreen mustache foundation planting, and what looked at first glance to be a very average tree. The backyard was lush and green and wonderful, with its showy maple, majestic oak, and colorful sugar gum trees. The front yard tree was all trunk with some scraggly branches dotted with small roundish leaves. I was more than a little glum that my bedroom was the one that was going to look out over the boring front yard and the boring, boring tree. Our nosy, know-it-all neighbor informed us it was a linden tree, and for the first year of living at Maple Hoo I cursed the linden and how it didn’t fill my bedroom window with the kind of lush foliage I was hoping to find in my forever home. More than that, it looked less than sturdy. Boomer had some of its branches wired to the trunk, but that only made me more nervous that in a big storm, my bedroom was going to be smushed, with me in it, by massive ugly linden branches, adding injury to the insult of not getting a view of the maple.

But somewhere along the line I discovered the tree was actually quite beautiful.

It might have been the moment when Boomer learned from her master gardener course that it wasn’t in fact a linden, confirming that our nosy, know-it-all neighbor knows little and should mind her own business (now we think the tree is a black locust). It might have been when I realized there weren’t as many baby black locusts trying to come up in the garden (those suckers are hard to pull up). It might have been when we added a handful of apple and peach trees, a new walkway, and a large garden to the front yard, thus relieving the tree of its prior role of “Sole Focal Point In The Front Yard”. Or it might have been when I discovered that an architectural tree can be just as interesting to look at as a lush maple canopy. It might have been when I discovered how pretty the leaves are when they turn light gold and fall, drifting like flakes in a snowglobe all over the front yard.

Or, it might be because it hasn’t come crashing into my bedroom, yet.

In any event, this is the Black Locust of Maple Hoo, guardian of the garden and inspiration for the apples and peaches to grow tall and strong.

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Disaster Nearly Strikes Maple Hoo

It was a dark and stormy night last night… for reals. Our horrible heat wave finally broke violently, as a nasty storm front blew threw. Just as dusk was falling, we were out picking up some carry-out for dinner and heard there was a tornado warning in effect. Now, we live in central Jersey for a lot of reasons, and lack of tornadoes is right near the top of my list. I do not cope well with adverse weather conditions, and so I was in a state of great freaked-out-ness when we got home. The sky was greenish, and there was an almost constant barrage of thunder and lightning. The trees were tossing unhappily, and huge, fat raindrops sounded like rocks hitting the windows.

And then, as I was nervously standing at the sink in the kitchen, getting ready to lay out our spread of Chinese food, I heard it. The unmistakable “CRACK!” overhead. And just like that, in a surprisingly gentle swoop, the entire picture window filled with maple leaves.

There was all manner of consternation as we slowly came to realize that an enormous branch had, in fact, just fallen on our deck, missing the kitchen by mere inches. Boomer bravely stepped outside to give it a sense of perspective:

Rumors started to fly around the house that our beloved maple was in ruins, and that it had taken the dogwood out with it. Through the darkness, all we could see was a single angry bit of broken branch, and to add insult to injury, the storm completely abated pretty much immediately. It all amounted to a spitting of rain and a single gust of wind strong enough to break our favorite tree.

When morning rolled around, though, the tension was relieved, as we discovered it looked like a mess…

… but it really wasn’t that bad. The dogwood was unharmed, and the leafy canopy? Is still pretty leafy.

By 2:00 in the afternoon, all that was left of the whole affair was our memories and photographs.

Years from now we’ll be able to look back on this and laugh. Actually, if I hadn’t written this blog post, years from now we’d probably have turned this into the most ridiculous “big fish” story every. “And then there was that time the maple was cleaved in two by the wind, and an entire half of it fell on the house, shattering windows and nearly killing us all…” So, yeah. This… wasn’t that big a deal. But it’s more excitement than I think we need on a regular basis.

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The Gloriousness Begins

Pookie and I each have our own bathroom, and each has a window that overlooks the backyard. Directly outside those windows stands a scraggly old dogwood tree. It doesn’t look like much at all from the ground, but both of us cherish that tree above almost all the others in the yard because of the view through its branches that we have while brushing our teeth. And today, after a few weeks of taunting us with ever-swelling buds, it started blooming.

I love this tree so much!

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