Address the issues in your garden before hurricane season
So, it's hot, it's humid, it's time to relax. With hurricane season upon us, now is also a good time to do a walk around the garden and make an assessment as to what needs to be done before any storms.
Heavy growth weighs down branches, and is therefore an accident waiting to happen.
When strong winds tear at the very fabric of the plant — its branches and foliage — they cause unnecessary damage to what was once a majestic specimen. Recognise the scenario; it's an annual rite but, it can be, to a great extent, reduced to a minor level.
Big trees, small trees and everything in between become susceptible to damage from windstorm and hurricanes; it is not only the wind but also the salt spray that causes leaf drop and withering foliage.
Snagged branches can lead to large “tears” becoming receptacles, which hold rainfall and, in time, lead to rot.
This type of rot in the trunk is not always immediately apparent. It can sit unseen for several years. By time it is apparent it can signal the loss of the canopy and, if major, the tree.
With large trees it is advisable to hire the services of a qualified tree surgeon who can assess the upper reaches of the canopy by climbing up and through the head and examining questionable areas.
The loss of a major bough, cracked limb or area of decay can totally disfigure the appearance of a majestic specimen, rendering its appearance dramatically.
With heavily laden branches, cabling and bracing can be carried out to create the support required for the canopy to continue its growth in a safe manner and retain its shape, which in a large property is usually a significant impact on the landscape.
In old specimens suffering from wind damage and tip dieback, which causes stag-headedness, the tree surgeon can correct any damage while developing a framework of branches for future growth.
Tall palms should have older leaves removed to reduce windage. During strong winds and tornadoes, tall palms often have their trunks “twisted” and snapped off, which renders the palm to being a telegraph pole and thus in need of removal.
If the palm is in a line of palms this becomes a significant loss and basically irreplaceable.
Small trees and shrubs in general — especially if heavy laden with growth — should have their branches thinned out to lighten the load, baring capacity of the main stems.
It is important when clearing up from a storm or any arboricultural work, to carry out a thorough clean up.
Leaving foliage and bits of branches around creates an opportunity for fungal growth as wood starts to break down and deteriorate.
After a strong windstorm with no rain, spray foliage on smaller material to remove salt spray, which will burn foliage if left, especially during hot sunny days.
It is often beneficial to chip as much of the “trimmings” as possible and recycle as compost for use in the garden; larger limbs can be cut into logs for burning in the winter months.
These two exercises eliminate the need for off-site trucking as they are functional in their own rite.
Major tree work should be carried out by professional people. With several companies on the island being capable of such work, it is also advisable to obtain several quotes.
If you are using your own equipment — chainsaws, etc — ensure it is serviced regularly; a dull saw can do irreparable damage and take a longer time to complete the task.
When all is done, one can relax, sit back with a Château Latour 1945, and smell the roses.
• Malcolm Griffiths is a trained horticulturalist and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture in the UK. He is also past president of the Bermuda Horticultural Society, Bermuda Orchid Society and the Bermuda Botanical Society