I live in a small historical area—most of the homes were built in the mid-to-late 1800s. All are proud. The trees are old and proud too; many of them are older than the homes. For all my life I’ve been crazy about historical homes and ancient trees (all trees for that matter). So when I was house hunting in 1998 and found the home of my dreams, I also found the tree of my dreams in the back yard.
When I bought my home, I named her Mamie, and the giant green ash I’ve named Ernie. I love Ernie, he’s somewhere between 110-130 years old and stands approximately 60 feet high.
Ernie has withstood winds in excess of 50 mph, the assault of major ice storms, and the backlash of several tornadoes. Three years ago I watched in horror when a storm whipped and torqued this giant tree like a swizzle stick. I stood at the window chanting, “Hold on, Ernie. Hold on!” And he did.
But Ernie is in trouble. His age and the many assaults have taken their toll. Over the winter he developed a split in his trunk and a nasty gap on the opposite side. Some people said, “Cut the tree down and plant another one,” and I looked at them like they were crazy.
Ash trees generally have a lifespan of 200+ years, and I plan on doing everything I can to give Ernie a full life.
After consulting with my arborist and keeping my fingers crossed that Ernie could be saved, a plan was in place: four cables to brace the large main branches and then the latest technology—bolts driven through the trunk for internal support. Ernie now has three of these bolts, and as he continues to grow, he will heal around them, making him stronger.
This photo will give you an idea of just how big Ernie is!
Ernie’s “surgery” went well, and he was treated to a special deep-root feeding. So now I’ll wait and hope and pray that all the measures I’ve taken to ensure Ernie’s life over the past 13 years (which have exceeded the cost of a Ford Fiesta), will work.
Ernie is worth it, all of it. He matters!