A Photo Essay In Memoriam of a Tree

A tree with a damaged trunk. It’s branches are straight and covered with green leaves. From February of 2020 to January of 2021, I published a series of posts showing what one of Toronto’s parks looked like in every month of the year. Click on February, MarchAprilMayJune, July, August, September, October, NovemberDecember and January to read those posts.

Two of the trees in that park had been badly damaged in an ice storm in late 2019 or early 2020, and I chronicled their response to losing branches and having their trunks damaged in my early posts. In May of 2021, I shared an update on them. One seemed to recover pretty nicely while the other was deteriorating.

I am both sorry and relieved to tell you all that as of the end of July 2022, the tree that never recovered was cut down by the city.

Here is a photo of that tree in June of 2020. Even from some distance away you can see the massive wound on it’s trunk from where at least one large branch was torn away. I am not a botanist or an arborist, but it otherwise looked good in 2020. It still had most of its branches, and they stood up straight and firm.

For the sake of comparison, here is a photo from May of 2020 that shows many branches it lost. I’d guess it was about a third of them.

A large tree that has a massive branch lying on the ground. It’s probably about a third of the size of the tree’s other branches.

In retrospect, I wonder if the tree was sick before this storm. You often see small branches torn off during storms, but generally not such large ones in healthy specimens.

A large tree that has huge cracks in it’s damaged trunk.

In August of 2020, a large crack began to form in the trunk.

A tree with a large hole in its trunk. The branches have begun to bend downwards. it looks very unhealthy.

 

A month later, the remaining branches began to bend. I no longer felt safe walking underneath it and took all of my future photos by zooming in from a safe distance. Many of those branches were big enough to kill you if they fell on you.

A tree that has a large, dangerous hole in the trunk and drooping branches. the leaves have begun to change colour for the autumn.

 

It’s hard to see in this photo, but by October of 2020 the damaged portion of the trunk began to look wet and like something stringy was growing in it. Maybe it was some sort of mould or moss? I quietly observed from a distance, but things were not looking good.

Zoomed-in photo of a deeply cracked and mossy trunk.

Here’s a zoomed-in photo of it from 2021. It’s hard to see, but it looked pretty bad in person.

The  deterioration continued from there slowly but steadily each month.

A sickly, large tree with many drooping branches.

The tree did sprout new leaves in 2021, but they were noticeably more sparse than they had been in previous years. The branches began drooping more heavily as well.

An arm-sized branch that has fallen from a tree.

2021 was the year when branches began falling from the tree over and over again. I’d held out hope that it would recover in 2020, but by last year I was seeing more and more signs that it may not.

A tree stump covered in sawdust.

As of late last month, a stump and some sawdust is all that remains of that beautiful tree.

Yes, this was a good decision. The danger it posed to visitors to the park was growing stronger with each passing month, especially for anyone walking near it on a windy day.

With that being said, I will still miss hearing the wind rustle its branches and the shade it provided on hot days. When it was healthy, its branches were so large they even provided shade for the picnic table you can see in the distance of one of the above photos which is kind of amazing when you consider how small trees are at the beginning of their lives.

I wish it could have survived. May it Rest In Peace.

 

8 Responses to A Photo Essay In Memoriam of a Tree

  1. If you want to count the tree rings of the stump it would give an indication of its age. Perhaps it was around before they named the park.

    • I love that idea! There are a ton of thunderstorms in the short term forecast, but once the weather clears up I’ll plan another visit to count the rings.

  2. Trees are wonderful. Some of my best days are the ones when I add new trees to my yard-or someone else’s yard.

  3. Very sad. Trees are so special. We had an old tree behind our home die, and it wasn’t on our property, so we didn’t cut it down, and in a storm it fell on our house in the middle of the night. The damage was fairly minor, but now I’m always looking at the health of trees when I’m camping etc

    • Thank you, Wendy.

      I’m glad that old tree didn’t cause serious damage to your house. How scary!

      It makes total sense for you to look for signs of good (or poor) health of trees now. Honestly, I do the same thing.

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