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Dr. Rich
Rich Simons | Upper East 11th

Photo illustration Art Olson.
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Every month, Rich Simons answers readers’ most perplexing questions.

All this month chain saws have been whining steadily in our neigborhood. Men seem to be living in the trees. What the heck is going on? – m.p.

Well, ah . . . as our old friend Ecclesiastes points out: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” This certainly holds true for trees. There are many different kinds of trees of course, and they vary all over the lot, but for many of the trees in our region (e.g. – your Eucalyptus and your Italian Stone Pine) March is the preferred month for trimming and, sadly, cutting down.

So that you can be more knowledgable and better prepared in the future, we should probably review all of the months as they pertain to the care and planting of trees:

JANUARY: Del Mar’s gardening guru, Pat Welsh, has dubbed this “The Bare-Root” month, because this is the month that you must . . . make that MUST . . . get ALL of those deciduous fruit trees that you foolishly ordered via mailorder because – hey! What a deal! But I should tell you at this point that if your house is sitting on the same old hard-pan marine terrace as mine, don’t even TRY to get those suckers in the ground. Run, don’t walk, to Dixieline and invest all you saved on that tree deal in old wine barrels and sacks and sacks of soil.

FEBRUARY: This might be called “warfare” month, because it’s when you must fight for control of pests and diseases on your sycamore trees, and of course your ash and your alders. Frustrated homeowners are known to attack these problems with 50mm repeating rifles. Reports are that this wasn’t terribly effective (especially against fungus) but it was wonderfully satisfying.

MARCH: We have already discussed this. It could be called the “noisy” month. The best strategy may be to turn all your trees over to Andy (Del Mar’s unofficial but ubiquitous city arborist) and then leave town. Andy has this thing where he likes to start at 7:00 AM, as close as he can get to your bedroom. While he’s there you might try to get him to trim the roses (hahahaha).

APRIL: “Is the cruelest month,” posited T.S. Eliot. Maybe because tree fanciers are in for a fight here.
As Pat Welsh points out in her book – this is when hedges and shrubs can get out of control and announce that they want to be trees. You just have to wade in with all the clippers you’ve got and disabuse them of this notion. Tell them if you’d wanted a tree you would have BOUGHT a @#%^&! tree.

MAY: Still no rest for the wicked (that’s shorthand for “tree enthusiast”). Now you have to do what you DIDN’T do last week, which is thin out the fruit starting to grow on all those trees you bought. If you don’t, come June you are going to be suffering the fruit equivalent of what we call “the Curse of the Zucchini.”

JUNE: If you haven’t thinned out the fruit on your trees earlier (or got to it too late) in this month the “Curse” (see above) will be upon you. You will have much more fruit than all your relatives, neighbors, friends and the gang at the office can possibly absorb. Where is all the surplus fruit? Of course it’s lying all over your yard, rotting and smelling.

TO BE CONTINUED: Space considerations require that we deal with the remaining months in our next edition. Until you have a chance to consult that information, you might want to avoid investing in any more trees.


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