The house we live in has two maple trees in the front yard, and one maple and one black walnut in back. We did not plant the trees; they were there when we purchased our home. We love the trees for their wonderful shade and somewhat privacy on the house. They attract birds and I like to leave the windows open on summer mornings and awaken to their chirping. (Although some of our children hated it when they were growing up because it was impossible to sleep in!) They have become the playground of two squirrels as well.
Even as endearing as these trees are, we pay dearly to have them. In the spring, the maple trees drop the light green blossoms that remind me of snowflakes. We had a blanket of them everywhere. I swept up buckets and buckets of them and used it as mulch around the perennials. Next came the “helicopters.” (I think possibly they were created to torment mankind.) Thousands of helicopters flying out of the trees into the grass, the bushes, all over the sidewalk, the decks, the driveway. They had to be swept up everyday or there would be layers and layers of them. Now, finally, they have all fallen and I am not sweeping helicopters as often.
And what do you think came next? The maple tree in the back yard currently has a very bad case of aphids, those tiny white bugs on the large maple leaves. It was a sure sign when the green leaves started falling as if it were autumn a couple of weeks ago. They look wet and they are covered with a syrupy sweet substance that attracts bees. One cannot walk into the back yard without the sticky leaves sticking to the bottom of your shoes! So I am back to sweeping off the back deck every day. And raking up sticky leaves. If you stand still long enough near the tree, you can feel the wetness dropping into your hair. And in the morning sunshine, I can see it dropping like a light misty rain.
On Saturday we purchased 3,000 ladybugs and I released them under the maple in the back yard. Oh happy day! Eat up, little ladybugs! We have a feast for you!
When the aphids are under control, I think (I hope!) the maple trees will be done with their dropping “stuff” for us to clean up until fall.
The black walnut tree will grab our attention when it begins to drop the green “balls” starting late-summer. By fall, we’ll be hearing “thump thump!” as they hit the house. They must be cleaned up quickly or the green turns to a mushy mess! When the leaves start falling off the trees in the fall, I don’t want these balls on the ground – it is an accident waiting to happen when they are concealed under falling leaves! We used to tell our children to throw the green balls (black walnuts are inside this) over the fence into the field behind us. Now, years later, there is a little grove of black walnut trees growing. Our neighbor who purchased the property asked me if I knew what kind of trees those were. I smiled and told her she had us to thank for her little grove. Some day they will grow big and bring unwanted shade into the vegetable garden. I guess throwing them over the fence was a bad idea. People ask us if we harvest our black walnuts…the answer is a resounding “NO!” But you are welcome to them if you like!
Also in the front yard is an evergreen tree. When we moved into our home, it was small and didn’t grow an inch for years. My husband thought we should get rid of it because if it wasn’t growing, it must be dead, was his reasoning. Well, I decided to start talking to it and watering it like crazy every day. That little tree started growing and is now a stately very tall pine tree that has very good manners. It doesn’t drop anything, not even pine needles. It just stands there and looks beautiful.
Trees are a wonderful thing to have. Even with all the work they are, I must admit, I’m grateful to have them. Now I’ll go check on those lady bugs…