Monday, June 9, 2008

Too Close for Comfort

The large Maple tree that has shaded the rear of Scotchtown, Patrick Henry's former home in Hanover County, is dead. After showing signs of distress the last couple of years, it has simply not leafed out at all this year. Ann Reid has secured prices for having it removed, as well as some of the other large trees at the site trimmed back to remove dead and threatening limbs. Because this tree is inside the fence area, that area of concern to The Garden Club of Virginia, and is such a significant landscape feature on the property, we have solicited their permission to have it removed and their advice about having it replaced. Having seen this picture, the advisor to the Club, Will Reilly, concurs that the tree has to go.

Not only is the tree dying, it poses a significant threat to the house because of its proximity. This raises a bit of a dilemma for us. We appreciate the shading value of a mature tree this close to the structure. Passive ventilation and use of natural alternatives to machine powered air conditioning as much as possible is one of the aspects of sustainability that we preach about old houses. However, when those features become fragile with age and natural cycles, as well as the threat of storms as we learned in Isabelle a few years ago, the safety of the house from an obvious threat has to be considered. When this feature is replaced, we will seek a buffer from the House so as it matures it will not present a new threat for future stewards to worry about.

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