Thursday, March 29, 2012

The plant murderer

It's kind of funny, but I hate to kill plants. A few years ago, I dug up some peonies which had been here since before I bought the house, and I felt like a murderer. I'm usually OK pulling weeds, but that's about it. Even my house plants end up feeling like pets. No matter how ratty they get, I don't want to put them down.

But earlier this year, I decided I needed to get rid of a couple of fruit trees. Partly, that was because I've got way too many here - there's more trees, bushes, and vines than I can handle, and it's all over-crowded. But these two trees were really pretty worthless for me, anyway.

One was a Dapple Dandy pluot (pluots are a cross between a plum and an apricot). It was a big, beautiful tree, well-branched, which was always loaded with fruit. Unfortunately, every year, all of the fruit would rot before it got ripe - brown rot, I think. But although I sprayed with various fungicides, it never made the slightest difference. Every day during the summer, I'd go out and pick off the latest rotten fruit, throwing it in the garbage, until it was all gone. I never got a single ripe fruit.

The other tree was a Hosui Asian pear. I've got a couple of other Asian pears which are just wonderful, but I've struggled trying to train this one. But the big problem is that the fruit has been absolutely tasteless. I can eat almost anything, but even I haven't been able to eat this stuff! (It's funny, because my other Asian pears are so good!)

So I haven't gotten useful fruit from either tree - not a single one. It was time they went. But as I was cutting off one limb after another, I just felt like a murderer, slowly dismembering my victims. "Please! Just give me one more chance! I'll be good, I promise."

OK, I'm not quite so far gone that I'm hearing voices, but I just couldn't kill those trees. I cut them way, way back, but I didn't remove them entirely. It's dumb, I know. What can I say?

But the really funny thing is that my pear tree is just a mass of blossoms right now. The only thing left of the tree is a trunk about four or five feet high and three thick, crooked branches, with the ends amputated, all on the west side of the tree. It looks kind of like a short ladder that's been split lengthwise.

But it's just a solid mass of big, beautiful, showy white blossoms. It really is pretty funny. It's the prettiest little tree in my yard, if you don't mind the odd shape of it. (I'd post a picture, if I had a camera.)

(Even funnier, perhaps, is that I apparently pruned off all the flower buds on my European pear trees - and those were ones I did want producing fruit this year. Oh, well, live and learn...)

The pluot is doing pretty well, too, but I left more branches on that one. Not too many more, but at least it still looks like a tree,... kind of. Of course, it's pretty stupid to leave it alive at all. But I really hate to murder my plants, even when I can't hear them scream.

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