Weed trees and other gifts to warm a house 6/26/14

By Heather Hacking

Nope, I haven’t bought a house, but I’ve decided to make a not-so-giant move to the little rental house next door. The house isn’t any bigger, but it’s in a little better condition, and has a tiny shed where I can store some of the overflow of life.

Every move has pros and cons; only I make the choice to be mostly happy.

Fresh paint, a fresh start, maybe even a new life.

The biggest drawback is the mimosa tree in the center of the yard.

Before you cup your hands into a megaphone and holler “cut it down!!!” remember that mimosa trees provide excellent shade.

Mimosas, also known as silk trees, also attract butterflies and bees to the wispy, faded pink pom-pom blooms that look a lot like soft bottle brush.

This tree also litters for a block radius three seasons out of the year.

I haven’t even moved in yet and I’ve already gathered six black plastic bags full of bloom waste. Another few buckets of tree garbage is on my car and billowing along the driveway.

As if this tree does not give enough, it’s prone to webworms that rain down into your hair. Later in the year, there will be thin seed pods exactly the right size to burrow into the crack between the windshield and the hood of the car. I also can look forward to the green, and later brown, spiked fruit. Read more startling info about the joys of mimosa trees here: http://goo.gl/ibLBBw

When I was bagging mimosa gunk recently, I couldn’t help but look over at my “old yard” next door, the little green triangle where I have pulled weeds for 18 years. As I cried I remembered Easter brunches, pumpkin carvings and ongoing battles with snails and slugs.

Yet, a move will do me good. I’ll unload my long-playing LP collection, sort through unmatched shoes and toss away reminders of unfinished projects.


Speaking of “devil trees,” my sister and I visited our friend Debbie who recently bought her first house in the Bay Area.

I thought it was tough shopping for a home in Chico. Debbie bid on 30 houses over a year, and was halfway through escrow when she had the first chance to look at her new house on the inside.

Seven months later, and more than a truck-load of yard waste later, her home is a lovely expression of Debbie’s lovely self.

The one, huge, drawback is ailanthus. Misnamed “the Chinese tree of heaven,” Ailanthus grows by reproductive tree litter as well as shoots sent up from three blocks away.

The tree is such a menace it has even more names, including Chinese sumac.

I suspect this tree is planted by evil gnomes at night.

During our garden tour she pointed out a bush four-feet tall that had grown in six weeks. Another shoot was proudly protruding from the center of the deck.

Scot Wineland, an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable local arborist, recommended cutting the tree of heaven down hard. Next, place rock salt in the wound. If this wasn’t feasible, he suggested placing rock salt in a plastic bag and affixing the baggie to the “stump” with a rubber band. For more ailanthus death tips: http://goo.gl/bZM2b5

In a very sad way, it was good for me to see Debbie’s dilemma. Unwanted trees are not uncommon.

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