Next to my 180-year-old house, I have a beautiful old ash tree that graces the yard. The tree is twice the height of my house and the trunk is wide, 45 inches in girth, but it is not the size that impresses me. Rather, I am awed by the thick limbs that bend and twist with character, limbs that reach out like open arms, ready to embrace. For years, my family had a swing attached to a lower limb, and the children would sway back and forth beneath the shade of this grand tree. At times, we hung bird feeders on it and bird houses too; they provided us with a lively view. We watched squirrels climb the tree, leaving large, leafy nests up high. The ash hosted wildlife and shaded my home. Throughout the years, it has comforted me, but now I worry about it; the old ash tree is in danger.
Locally, we are facing an infestation of the emerald ash borer, an insect that quickly destroys every ash tree in its path. My neighbors have already had ash trees die. I have eleven ashes on my property, all at risk. I am concerned about all of them, but the ash that I care about most is the one with character that I admire every day from my kitchen window. What could I do to save it?
For the past few years, as the infestation of the emerald ash borer approached my area, I had an arborist inject insecticide into the soil around the ash. The roots supposedly soaked up the insecticide to prevent the emerald ash borer from doing harm, but the arborist has warned me that this treatment is not very effective any more. Now I need a more aggressive treatment: a different insecticide will be injected directly into the trunk. The treatment will begin as soon as the leaves emerge. The treatment is expensive, and it needs to be done every two years for the next decade, but I love the old tree and I’ll go to such lengths to save it.
This spring, I am anxiously waiting for the tree to leaf out — it produces leaves much later than the other trees in my yard. It is only then that I’ll be able to see how much damage has already been done by the emerald ash borer; those branches will die, starting from the top of the tree. When I see leaves or dead wood, I’ll learn whether the tree can be rescued at all.
The old ash tree currently stands with bare branches, and it looks stark against the backdrop of the deep green lawn, the golden forsythia, the purple-pink red bud tree, and the pale green maple leaves. I can only hope that the old ash won’t remain a dark silhouette forever due to the emerald ash borer. I aim to save the beloved tree.