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The Winds of Change
9/11 from Another Perspective

About every ten years, sometimes more often,
nature decides to redo our garden in a major way and in a hurry.

In 1985, hurricane Gloria came through the garden with Carthaginian results. Many maple trees were completely uprooted, huge broken trunks littered the ground, and thousands of small branches were strewn everywhere. There was a steady blow of about 75 knots. If it had blown much harder, the taped windows would have shattered. During the eye I walked the half mile down to the beach. There were trees down across the road all the way to the beach. The huge waves had deposited over two feet of sand across the road.

It took weeks to clean up the mess.

In 1992, we had a December nor'easter that uprooted and blew down eight Ailanthus trees. The trees were forty to sixty feet tall. All the structures I had built in this area of the garden were destroyed. About one third of the wild garden was simply gone. We decided to take down the other eight Ailanthus trees. We left only one specimen. After clearing up the debris and pulling out all the stumps, we built a small pond and what used to be part of the wild garden became the waterfall garden. Suddenly we had sun where there was shade. In the end the garden was improved.

On September 11, 2002, we had a bright sunny day here, but with wind gusts up to 65 knots. The two 65-foot willow trees at the edge of the pond were uprooted and came down. I saw the first one come down, and Ellen saw the second. One of my wooden arches was smashed — no great loss. A few hemlocks were crushed. The biggest loss was an old and beautiful Styrax Japonica that was among the first of the trees planted here by Ellen.

One of the willows was uprooted and had come down back in '92. We topped it, and using a crane, managed to tip it back up again.

This time the two willows were topped to about eight feet and pushed back up once again. We will use the upcoming winter to decide how we will redo the space in the lower garden where most of the damage was done.

In the end, a garden lasts only as long as there is someone willing to keep up the folly that is gardening.

— T. McFaul, November, 2002

Copyright © 2002–2011, Thomas G. McFaul
Last modified: Wed May 11 09:50:09 EDT 2011
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