A Tale of a Tree

A Tale of a Tree

Back in December 2006, Chester Garden Club undertook a risky mission to save a magnificent old magnolia that had been a much-loved feature of Chester for many years. The tree was about to be uprooted and discarded to make way for a new house that was to be built on a seaside property, and the owners were offering the club the opportunity to re-locate it. Unfortunately, this proposal came during the Christmas holidays, a difficult time of year for transplanting of any sort and the club had to act quickly within a very small window of time. Because the ground was not yet frozen, however, a team of volunteers using a small back-hoe managed to move the tree and get it established in its new location – the club’s own Cove Garden! Luckily, there was a fair amount of rain in the week that followed and then the winter snow blanketed the ground.

The following spring, the tree was nourished with a special seaweed emulsion and was provided with lots of water by club members who lived nearby. Members became encouraged at some signs of new life; a few buds that appeared on the tree developed into green shoots, and some blossoms opened on forced branches (which had been saved after pruning) but still the tree appeared to be struggling. On the advice of (and under the watchful eyes of) a local garden consultant, club volunteers then performed a major pruning operation to try to preserve what strength remained in the tree.

Throughout 2007, several members of the club acted as guardians, fertilizing and watering the tree on a regular basis. By the summer of 2008, however, it was clear that major surgery was required to preserve and redirect the tree’s energies A severe pruning then reduced the magnolia to a mere shadow of its former self. Optimistic members of the club have continued to hold on to their hope that the tree might recover but it will be the state of its health this spring, 2009, that will tell the tale.

As of April 11th, no growth is evident and the bare branches have enticed some village children to use it as a climbing post. We will be monitoring the magnolia closely for any signs of growth this spring before making any final decision as to its fate. Stay tuned!

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