Tree of the week: This pink dogwood faced the chop – until its owner made a bold new plan | Environment

July 27, 2020
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Ellen Reynard moved to Nevada City, California, from San Francisco seven years ago. One of her favourite things about her new home was the tree in the corner of her front garden. “This pink dogwood bloomed so beautifully that it took my breath away,” she says. “It has done so every spring since then.”

The retired magazine editor was devastated when the local power company told her this year that she would have to chop down the tree so that it could move the overhead power line to her house. “The thought of cutting down that beautiful tree made me very sad. It had been there for many years.”

Reynard, 72, asked her landscape gardener, Carlos, if they could save the tree. They decided to transplant it in April, a process that involved “a lot of digging through hard clay soil to disengage the roots”. The roots were then wrapped up in tough plastic sheeting.

The tree was lifted and carried to the middle of the garden. It was then carefully lowered into a specially prepared new hole, which was filled with nutritious planting soil. “I was transfixed by the whole process,” says Reynard. “It was very impressive.”

Once the tree was in its new location, it was watered and fed with vitamin B. During the transplant, it did not lose a single leaf, but it has had a few cosmetic changes since its big move. “The trunk was heavily blanketed in moss before I moved the tree, but now it is mostly clean except for a small coating of moss on an upper branch.” The trunk remains one of the features of the dogwood that Reynard most loves. “The bark is cracked and wrinkled, like an old face that has been weathered by many years of hardship.”

Carlos and his team have since landscaped the front garden with the dogwood tree as the centrepiece. “When I first stood next to it after it was transplanted, I could feel its life like a hum. I touched the leaves to feel if they had suffered from the move, and they were supple and shimmery in the breeze.” Reynard’s neighbours like to drop by to admire the revamped garden. “Some have asked where the beautiful tree came from.”

Reynard spends her days writing poetry and fiction. She likes to sit in the cooling shade under the dogwood in the late mornings waiting for inspiration to strike. “Each time I look at the tree, it is with joy and appreciation.”

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