A terrible pall has enshrouded my weekend.
It started with a ring of my doorbell. An unassuming man with a pen and a composition notebook was standing at my door, clad in his company t-shirt… a tree service. He allowed as how they were working on a tree down the street, and noticed my tree. I was immediately suspicious, but I listed to his spiel. We get these kinds of solicitations all the time… “Hi, I’m from Acme Windows and I wanted to see if you wanted to take advantage of the same great deal on replacement windows your neighbors are getting….” Usually I just say no thanks and close the door, but I was bored this morning so I humored this particular interloper.
He asked me to follow him on a short walk down the street. We turned back towards my house and he asked me if I saw the large, leafless, and dead area at the top of our biggest tree. “Yes,” I replied cautiously. “Lets walk back. Up close you can see that your tree has a rather large mistletoe infection.”
It turns out that wasn’t so bad. According to this guy, a little trimming would take care of the problem. The real bombshell came next.
“I don’t mean to scare you, but you’re probably going to have to remove this tree in the next few years.”
The conversation ended, and I retired to my internet connection.
There I did a little research on my own. I had heard from various sources that the tree in my front yard is a “water oak,” so I checked out the “Florida Trees” reference at the University of Florida (on the web). The water oak did indeed match the tree in my front yard.
As I read through the detailed description of the tree, my heart broke.
A rapid-grower, Water Oak has a relatively short life span of only 30 to 50 years…. The tree often begins to break apart just as it grows to a desirable size. For this reason, Live, Bur, Shumard, Red, White, Swamp White Oak and others are much better choices.
Trees are slow growing treasures. You can’t just go to a nursery and replace a 40-50 foot oak tree. I’d give up my car and ride my bike everywhere if I could.