Why can't it be the ginkgo?

Why can't it be the ginkgo?

My relationship with trees is complicated. Sort of the love-hate variety.

Love the canopy of shade in the summer. Hate that the grass won’t grow.

Blog PhotoLove the fall colors. Hate the mountains of leaves we have to rake.

Love the gingko’s golden leaves. Hate the smelly fruit. (We are up to 12 bags and counting.)

You get the idea.

We deliberately chose in-town neighborhoods when we bought both of our houses because we (at least I) like older houses with character and streets with full-grown trees.

Within a few months of moving in to our latest house in 2001, however, the city came by to cut down one of the two huge trees out front. Turns out it was practically hollow and could have demolished our house.

Still, I was sad to lose something so massive and old. Planted in its place was a nice white oak, but it was subdivision-size.

A year or so later, a big storm rolled through and took out a major limb from the other tree. It was relatively healthy, but the city decided it would eventually die, so that one had to go, too.

Now we had two subdivision trees.

The other big tree out front is the ginkgo. It’s on the parkway, but the city won’t take it down because it’s healthy.

Healthy is overrated. It’s a nuisance tree if there ever was one.

Would you and your neighbors like to have fruit that smells like vomit squished into the soles of your shoes? Or embedded in the grooves of your tires so that your garage smells like a dead body? (I have actually had friends ask me what died when they came over to our house.)

Neighbors walk by as we’re literally shoveling the fruit by the thousands into lawn bags and say things like, “Yeah, my daughter had one of those. She sold her house.” One unsuspecting man picked one up saying, “What are these?” before I could stop him. He dropped it like a dead rat, made a face and said, “Smells like it’s already rotted.”

Apparently that’s not nuisance enough.

Not to worry, though. Arborist Michael Poor told me the other day our lovely, smelly ginkgo should only live another couple hundred years.

But enough complaining, I’ve been down that road enough.

Poor was next door because we had discovered that our neighbor’s tree, which borders our fence, was split down the middle. The damage became visible when we had Durst Tree Service remove three smaller trees from our yard that were growing up through the power lines and too close to the fence.Blog Photo

The split trunk was leaning precariously toward our neighbor’s house, so they wisely opted to cut it down. I was glad. Apparently another nearby homeowner had an old hackberry fall during a storm, sending two branches shooting through her wall on either side of her chair as she was watching TV.

Let’s avoid that if we can.

But I had mixed feelings when the giant crane truck arrived the next day to cut down the tree.

It was a massive operation, with more than a half-dozen crew members working in tandem to lift huge sections of the tree out one at a time, high over our house (with me praying below) and out to the street, where they were chopped into pieces and fed into a chipper.Blog Photo

I was both fascinated and sad.

How many years had that tree stood there? Fifty, or more? Through two or three generations, maybe even from the house’s beginnings in the late 1930s.

It’s seen generations of kids grow up, swimming and playing baseball and building snow forts in the backyard. Decades of mowing and raking and family barbecues and birthday parties.

There’s something missing in our backyard now. The natural skyline of those majestic branches is gone. I feel like we’ve lost a friend.Blog Photo

But we have several other old elms and maples to give us shade. And there’s new opportunity — for sunshine, for grass to grow so mud doesn’t wash into our carport with every storm.

And apparently that freakin’ ginkgo is going to outlive us all.


Julie Wurth blogs about kids and families and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact her at 217-351-5226, jwurth@news-gazette.com or Twitter.com/jawurth.


From top, the old hackberry before it was taken down, then as sections are taken out piece by piece and fed into a chipper. Julie Wurth




Login or register to post comments