This is not a proud episode, because I unintentionally exercised cruel and unusual punishment.
Last fall, one of my clients let me salvage a small hickory from their yard that otherwise would have been cut down. But the salvaging quickly turned into butchering.
I am not sure if there is a word for upside-down decapitating. If there is, that is what I did to the hickory: I cut off its vital two inch tap root in the transplanting process. Not only that, but I also hauled it for 40 miles in the back of my truck during that warm and dry fall day.
Back at my house, what was left of any leaves looked like dried tobacco and crumbled upon touch. I still planted the poor fellow, yet had no expectation that it would survive.
And that seemed to be its fate. By late May, everything around us had leafed out, except that dry stick in our park way, which once was a proud hickory. Even my neighbors noted and inquired if I would remove it.
Before going down that route, I cut off the very tip of a lower branch – and detected some green cambium behind the bark. Was it really there or was it something that I wanted to be there? In any case, it was a good excuse to delay the removal for a little longer.
By mid June, I got confirmation that the green cambium wasn’t wishful seeing on my part. This resilient son of a bitch developed buds, which kept growing and eventually exploded into leaves.
I should also disclose that I poured a five gallon pail of water at the tree base pretty much every day since late April. And thanks to my new rain barrel, I continue to do so.
Yet, this is still a very tenuous situation!
While we had days with dry and hot wind in late June, some of the leaves started to dry up again. I kept watering and it looks like I was able to stop that trend.
Have no doubt. This fellow will take a few years to recover from my butchering. I am just glad I didn’t kill it after all – yet.