Farewell to the King

I am a tree lover.  I love all types of trees and I include many varieties of trees in my garden designs and my own yard.  I do what it takes to keep them healthy which includes planting them in the right spot, watering deeply and fertilizing during the growing season.  I even apply systemic insecticide on trees that have problems with bugs.

Even with all of that love and attention, I have a very sick tree in my own yard that I have decided to cut down.  In September of 1999 I planted a very small but beautiful Crataegus viridis ‘Winter King’.  Better known as the Winter King hawthorn.

Healthy 5 year old Winter King Hawthorn

This tree is known for its beautiful white flowers in Spring, reddish-orange berries in Fall and beautiful exfoliating bark year round.  In the last few years, the leaves have become smaller and very little growth has occurred.  Flowers and berries were abundant but the leaves would turn yellow by mid summer.  

I even had Susan Rose and the master gardener diagnostic team out last summer to see if they could find out what was causing this tree so much distress.  They could find no evidence of bugs or disease.  Every tree and shrub around it was healthy.  Even the grass was healthy around it.  No obvious signs of the culprit.  
I sprayed the foliage with Miracle-Gro and the leaves I could reach turned green for a time but went back to being yellow in a month or two.  This year, same story.  Lots of beautiful white flowers followed by small leaves that are turning yellow.  
Sucker growth at base is normal for this variety of tree.  Notice the  striking exfoliating bark
So, after years of struggling, it’s time to put it out of its misery.  I am going to cut the ‘King’ down this week.  I also plan to dig out the root ball to find out if there is a problem with the roots.  Its driving me crazy that I don’t know what happened to this tree.

I will document the process and post as soon as I can.  Wish me luck as I say Farewell to a friend.

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