Aug 1, 2012 - the turning point for our front lawn and gardens. This Siver Maple, planted sometime before 1920, has dominated our home since it was constructed in 1941. It is a city tree and has been slated to be cut down. On this morning the tree drinks in the morning sun for the last time before it is felled. A google street view from 2009 shows the tree already reduced from its full size as we first found it in 1999, when we moved in. This google street view from the west side hints at the original character of the nieghbourhood. For much of the second half of the twentieth century, with maples having been planted sometime before 1920 on every lot, there would have been a glorious canopy over our street and its two side streets. All of the large trees shown here are now gone. In our backyard,  the maple tree had always been a towering backdrop for the house. March 2008 - another of ninety winters in the life of a this tree, rising up in the corner of an otherwise flat front lawn. In October of 2009 I put my 32' extension ladder into the tree and climbed up to see what there was to see. I was worried about tree rot and could see evidence from the ground that there were holes and hollows. This confirmed my suspicians.
March 2011: a tree crew has come in and trimmed the tree of rot. What remains is a shadow of its former self, but still magnificent. April 28, 2011: In spite of the trimming a month ago, another branch has come down in a wind storm and knocked out our hydro again. This was probably the last straw for the city. The tree was now living on borrowed time. The Silver Maple is huge, with a base that is six feet across from side to side and four feet, front to back. On the day of the cut, before going to work Wendy gives the tree a hug. When she returns, it will be gone. The enormity of this loss has still not sunk in. Tears will come later. The job of cutting the tree down took most of the day. I had work to do, so Michael was conscripted to take pictures.
The last cut is through the massive 4'x 6' base Ten days later, the tree still dominates our parched front lawn with its stump. In the days immediately after the tree was cut down, we observed squirrels wander up to the stump and sit on top for a bit clearly befuddled by the disappearance of their grand hotel. The squirrel population in our neighbourhood is now greatly decreased. By taking a belt sander to the stump I revealed tree rings tracing it back to at least 1920. People walking by would sometimes stop to take note, and their kids would stand astride its table sized top. We soon started planning for the future, looking at trees in a new way wherever we went. We settled on getting a city-planted tulip tree, so I photoshopped one in to see what it might look like (in 20 years). By October, our lawn had recovered from the dry summer, and this rainbow gave us some hope for renewal. The old stump was ground down in the summer of 2013, more than a year after the tree was cut down. At the end of October, our tulip tree was delivered and planted.
The young tulip tree was already a bit sparse from the autumn fall-off. A bit later, on a frosty day in early November, our front lawn showed good progress. The new northern garden, with its birch tree, dwarf pines and granite was ready for winter. And the tulip tree  was putting down roots to anchor the carolinian garden that would be dug the next spring. A dearth of work in the spring of 2014 gave me ample time to dig and turn over the new garden.  A boulder that had come with us from our previous home served to add another focal point. The leaf bags are evidence of vigorous pruning around the whole property. Vineland Nurseries served as our source for information and plants. A few of the native plants that we were looking for were immediately available. Most had to be ordered in.