little yellow house #6

Did you miss the previous episode of this story? You can also jump back to the beginning.


a big day begins early!

Morning sun slants low across the neighborhood early on November 9, 2012. It’s a big day because the old silk tree is finally coming down. But before the men arrive with their big noisy machines, let’s have a little look around.


The space directly under the big tree has been cleaned up. Many of the large irises, pittosporums, and other plants have been removed. Yellow flags mark the gas line. A white area on the house shows where an old jasmine vine was removed. To the right of the white mark, a very smart doggie looks out through the window.


Above: a close look at the front edge of the streetside lantana strip. As promised, irregular slate stones have been placed here, with new grass stems already shooting up between. This is a temporary placement, subject to further editing as the rocks settle in. The grasses and other sprouts between the stones will mostly be removed, making room for mosses and other tiny plants.


men and machines arrive

Here they are! The big truck is being anchored at the edge of the lantana strip, where the tree guy stands on those slate stones we were just looking at. This is it!


With very little further preparation, Tree Guy gets into his bucket and levitates into the branches. The chainsaw roars into life. One by one, branches fall.


Tree Guy is careful not to drop branches on delicate areas of the garden. Still, they cover large areas with masses and masses of leafy, twiggy debris. The truck pulling the wood chipper arrives, and the first branches are fed in…






All morning it continues, with the noise and the sawdust and the branches coming down. The chipper keeps eating bigger and bigger branches. The remaining tree becomes shorter, and the remaining trunks are the biggest ones of all.




We set aside some of the nicest branches, which are covered with an astounding variety of lichens and mosses. This is the kind of gorgeous micro-ecosystem that can develop when no human touches a surface for years at a time. We’ll try to preserve some of these branches to decorate the back yard, but the lichens and mosses will probably suffer a lot from the changed environment.


Several hours later, there’s not much left of the tree. What will happen to all those huge trunks? Wait and see…




When they started shoving huge logs into the chipper, I almost didn’t believe what I was seeing. Everything, even the biggest, heaviest trunks, went right in. What a lot of noise!


I could not help feeling quite sad as the last trunk sections were taken down.


The final cuts went right into the main cambium of the trunk. Look how the tree is bleeding. Enough sap is coming from just this one cut to fill a drinking cup in twenty seconds. Feeling very sad…


Just one last cut, and we are down to ground level. But the work is not yet finished. We will need a new tool!


Before we bring in the stump remover, have a look at the stump. See the dark brown circle? That’s evidence of the fungus that has been attacking this tree for many, many years. Where the stain touches the outside of the stump is where the soft spot was that showed the fungus infection from the outside.


Possibly the most evil-looking garden machine ever. The huge toothed wheel arrives, ready to literally eat right down into the ground. Yikes!






At long last, it’s over. Peace and quiet returns to the neighborhood as little yellow house basks in sudden sunshine. Where there was a huge old silk tree, now there is only a soft spot in the ground … and a yard full of thousands of tiny twigs and leaves.


Next: In the sudden sun, a grand transformation begins.

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