Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Belated April Fools'

...was likely what Owner/Gardens Director Joe Harris was thinking as he received a call at home early this morning from Denise at the Kona Kai front desk, who reported that half of a sizable Schefflera tree had come crashing down sometime last night, which was ironically not remarkably stormy or windy.  As it turns out, there was no fooling involved - the tree had in fact split in half but had fortunately fallen safely away from all people and structures, while also doing minimal damage to surrounding plants.  Coincidentally, I had been discussing this tree's removal with Veronika only a couple of days before.  It is a rather weak tree overall and had a narrow "V" crotch very near to the ground with what looked to be some included bark and rot.  Included bark is bark that grows in between two trunks/branches that are attached at narrow angles.  This bark is usually out of view until a split happens, and then one can see the bark that had grown in between the branches, causing the juncture to weaken until it eventually splits.  Here is a picture of the Schefflera where it split with a bit of included bark and a good deal of rot:

So as I walked into work this morning, suspecting nothing, I noticed there were bunches of leaves apparently growing out of the sidewalk farther down the walkway.  Being a decent botanist/horticulturist, I noted that large plants usually don't grow straight out of cement walkways, especially overnight, so I ventured down the walk to investigate and found the split Schefflera lying across the walkway.  Instinct and adrenaline immediately took over and I made for the tool shed, whereupon I selected a couple choice cutting blades to quietly make quick work of the fallen branches.  As can be seen in the pictures below, my wood-cutting technique is incredibly deft, and it wouldn't surprise me to find that my ancestors of yore were Siberian lumberjacks.

With help from the rest of the staff, everything was cleaned and tidied up so quickly and quietly that many of the guests who had seen the fallen tree and branches whilst on their way to the pier for morning coffee no doubt questioned the nature of their drinks from the night before as they walked back to their rooms finding not a twig in sight.

It is likely that the rest of this tree will be removed sooner rather than later, and I will be looking for a worthy plant to take its place.  In the meantime, the remaining parts of the tree make a very good example for our guests and visitors of why proper pruning and the selection of strong trunk and branch junctures, especially when the trees are young, are vital to their long-term health and stability.

Rick Hederstrom
Associate Director

1 comment:

  1. I actually wish it was an April Fool's joke. This was a spectacular tree but I am sorry to say that, as Rick hints, it will be completely removed next week when the gardens get their semi-annual tree trimming. We're hoping to replace it with a palm tree not yet in our collection - something unique - we're open to suggestions. And yes, there are still two other mature Schefflera's on the garden grounds so our northern friends can see what those "lobby plants" will grow into under the right conditions. jch