Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the trees in my yard

Today I tried to make friends with my backyard. When we moved here it was beautifully landscaped, although by someone else's idea of beauty. It was full of exotic cultivars with blooms so big the puny stalks needed crutches to hold them up. The cultivars are still there, at least the ones who survived my refusal to water the softies. (Before we moved here, I was all about native plant gardening.) I haven't done a thing with the yard to make it more to my taste because I've refused to believe we're staying here.

Anyways, today was sunny and mild. Yesterday's crazy wind was gone, so I put the baby in the sling and hung out with Eldest for a bit.

I've gotten it into my head that I want to try making maple syrup. I know we have maple trees in my backyard but I haven't troubled myself to pay attention to exactly which ones are the maples. Last week Eldest gathered some old leaves that didn't get raked last fall, and we were able to figure out (from a book I found on one of my recent obsessive thrift store trips - yay!) that we have either sugar maples or Norway maples somewhere in the yard.

Unfortunately the book doesn't have great information about identifying trees in the winter. I did some googling and the bark seems to be a key. So today I studied the bark of each of the six big trees in turn. But honestly they all looked the same to me. And I studied the twig branching patterns way up in the sky, and every time I saw opposite branching, I was all Aha! A Maple! And then I'd see some alternate branching. And then when I saw a lot of alternate branching and was all Aha! Not Maple! Then I'd see some opposite branching. So I'm not much further ahead. I met a landscape architect in the neighbourhood last fall, so I'm hoping maybe she can help.

The one thing that makes me hesitate is that sugar maples are very vulnerable, especially in cities. This organization (which looks wonderful btw) actually makes it their policy to only tap Norway maples. It takes more Norway sap to make syrup than sugar maple sap but Norways are well adapted to the city.

So I may not have conclusively identified the trees in my yard, but I did begin to make friends with the place, at least to observe it.

And while I'm on the subject, check out this video. The message is grave but I find the woman so charming. I love that she just took this work on herself, at age 61, because it was important to her.

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