15 November 2015

Getting Rid of an Unwanted Guest

Years ago, I planted a small Asian xylosma tree that I purchased on a whim from the Natural Gardener (they have since removed them from their stock). At once, I felt some trepidation about planting it, but desire won over. As the years have gone by, the xylosma has grown into a lovely evergreen multitrunked tree that anchors the patio garden.

But still, I've often wondered if it was the correct thing to plant, and pondered as much here on this blog.

When I bought the tree, I was under the impression that it was "sterile." I should've done more research. I recently discovered that it is not, in fact, sterile. These berries... 

Turn into new little xylosma trees...

I knew it was germinating from seed, because from seed it reverts back to having thorns (see above). A deep search on the Google-bot led me to even find xylosma listed as an invasive on the Bayou Preservation Association site.  

Though the bees like the little flowers and the birds clearly like the little berries, I decided that it was time to remove it. I do not was to be ground zero for another non-native invasive species creeping across our vulnerable landscapes. They are in enough trouble, thank you very much. 

Here's my process from this weekend:

Ack! My garden is as nekkid as a jay bird.

Ultimately, it was very hard to cut down a tree that had grown for so long and was looking so developed, but I'm really happy to replace it. I've decided to go with a large native shade tree, a chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), purchased from Ted's Trees down the road.

It will eventually be much nicer because it will shade the house from the late (very hot) western sun in the summer. It's also deciduous, so we'll get some much needed light in the winter. The acorns will be great for wildlife, and the leaves will, too. Oaks are one of the nation's most important trees - host to hundreds of different insects that are in turn important food for birds.

I can't wait for the oak to be delivered in a couple of weeks! And then will begin the process of exploring what that patio garden should be.


Pam/Digging said...

It's hard to cut down an established and healthy plant, much less a tree that's giving shade. But it sounds like it's a good decision for your garden, especially since yours is mostly a native garden. I look forward to seeing how your garden evolves with the new chinquapin oak.

Michael B. Gordon said...

Thanks for posting your decision-making process. Correcting mistakes we make as gardeners is often difficult but creates opportunities which you have seized.I look forward to the watching the development of your new oak tree. It sounds like an excellent choice.

TexasDeb said...

You set an excellent example. Yours was a brave choice (and one I support!), especially in light of the wildlife interaction. I wish I could claim I "only" had one small tree to take out to undo plantings made with old information before invasiveness was much of a consideration. More than one of the plants I bought (from reputable local nurseries) that were originally labeled as "well adapted" have turned out to be invasive and as such are no longer welcome in my spaces. Getting them all out is going to be a protracted process. I'm sure the oak will prosper and soon enough you'll have to look at photos to recall how your garden used to look.

Annie in Austin said...

It must have been a hard decision but it sure does sound like the right one. If you were my neighbor I'd appreciate your not adding another invasive (and thorny) shrub or tree to the mix ... so much of my neighborhood is already a demonstration of what not to plant.
May your new oak grow happily in the garden!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Lori said...

Oh mannnn, that sucks. But I'm glad you blogged about it, because now I know to not recommend xylosma to people. I almost planted one last winter, but went with an anacua instead, since I was fascinated by the one in your garden. I'm looking forward to seeing how your backyard evolves with the addition of such a large tree!

Claire Jain said...

Nice work on the tree removal! I've got a yard in Mueller. We're on our second house in the development, and there is a cedar elm in the backyard that was planted when the house was built five or six years ago. I hate to cut it down, but it's really not in the right spot for us to enjoy any shade. Plus, if we have room for extra trees, it would be great if they were growing something we could eat. Between the cedar elm and a wax myrtle, I think we have some tree removal in our near future. I was curious if we could do it ourselves or if it's too big of a project.

Gerard Coppola said...

Had a good belly laugh at your comment. Scrolled down the pictures and then "Ehh Naked as a jay bird".