HerbDoc has a cautionary tale for lovers of trees:
I suppose it’s a lesson to all of us that we should be planting sustainable plants and trees in our yards, but I can’t I can’t help but feel badly about the once mighty one hundred and fifty year old European beech on my friend’s property.
At one time these trees experienced real popularity and were planted among the mansions in Newport and on the grounds of other well to do homeowners throughout Rhode Island. Today, many of these same trees are dying an early death because of insects, bleeding canker fungus, root damage from lawn mowers, pollution and compacted soil and pavement damage. European beech trees here are lucky to survive 130 years, but those in their native European forest groves live to 300!
My friend’s tree was carefully tended to and dearly loved. Unfortunately a local business near his lot line put in a drive through where the tree proudly stands. Although no one can prove it, it appears that the paved lane may cover a portion of the trees roots and may have hastened its decline.
Since installation the tree has been steadily losing large portions of its once magnificent canopy, and the older wood is at the point where it can no longer recover. The tree is also losing bark and is discolored in places. In a couple of weeks a licensed arborist will arrive to begin the sad process of cutting the venerable old friend down.
A sad lesson to us all: know what plants you’re adding to your landscape and find out if they are sustainable in your area. My friend will do just that when he’s looking for a replacement to prevent the heartache and expense he’s now going through.
Editor’s note: Beeches are notoriously sensitive to any disturbance of their roots. My guess is the driveway did it.