Monday, April 23, 2012
Death of the Old; Room for the New
Yesterday we pushed over a dead, cottonless cottonwood tree that has been standing at the perimeter of the mowed area/firebreak in our front yard. It was a favorite spot for passing birds to land so that they could check out my yard, so I feel a bit of a pang at seeing it go. However, I find I'm also welcoming the chance to make the garden/yard a little more into my own creation.
When Greg had cleared out all of the deadwood from the cottonwood corpse that he could handle single-handedly, we were left with the bottom 8 feet or so of the trunk of the tree, including what little remained of the roots. Greg suggested hooking up the pickup truck and dragging it to the burn pile; I got to thinking that we might be able to use it another way....
The cottonwood had been sited in the middle of the main drainage path for the entire front yard. Every time we get a good rain, this area fills up with water and eventually drains down into the draw that connects with nearby Spring Creek. We've started trying to slow that water down to keep it on our own land, beginning with a bed that encompassed the rotting roots of this cottonwood's sibling, cottonless cottonwood #2.
Why not use this tall stump as a part dam/part visual focal point for a new rain garden bed? Greg wasn't too keen on leaving the stump, but I got him to turn it 90 degrees and leave it there to get used to the idea. Meanwhile I brought over my handy-dandy, bed-making hose and started making a (very) rough outline of what the bed might look like.
To anchor the newly evolving bed, I planted 3 little black cherry trees I had impulsively purchased about a month ago up in Topeka. I hadn't been sure where to plant these new little seedlings; this spot seemed truly ideal. On the downhill side of the cottonwood "dam", they should get a bit of extra water. Additionally, they will be close enough to the house that I can watch as they grow and develop, but not so close that they become the main focal point...just in case they get a little straggly looking (which can happen with black cherries here in Kansas).
So here is the start of my new rain garden bed.
Obviously there is a LOT more to do before this bed becomes a reality; it may be a year or two until I get the grass completely cleared out and perennials planted and mulched - but the process has been started. The tree trunk can begin to sink down into the soil as decomposition sets in and the little black cherries can put their roots down and their branches up as they settle into their new spot. Life, and death, march on.