The Battle For Elms No More

Armed with chainsaws, chipper at hand, under a clear blue sky, they made their first assault on the army of elm trees controlling the southern border. Boom! The aerial attacks from inside the bucket methodically cut down the enemy elms. Blasting chips from shredding limbs, trunks turned into mulch. Dumped in piles that will be spread on paths over cardboard the earth will reclaim.

Storm clouds started building in the early afternoon.

The sky turned dark to the east, the south and to the west. Thunder rumbled in the background.

The sky started to clear to the east and west before sunset, but clouds were exploding to the south.

The winds were pushing and reshaping colorful clouds to the south and west as the sun put itself to bed.

67 thoughts on “The Battle For Elms No More

  1. Incredible sunset clouds, and I love the description “the sun put itself to bed”. Fantastic! I’ve never heard a sunset described like that.

  2. Wonderful post. You capture everything in the words too. agree with that comment above. We live in a conservation area gone bonkers frankly where trees are concerned. Our downstairs neighbour applied for permission to cut back this tree that was a monster that not been looked after in god know’s how long. We don’t know cos we have only been here 7 years. But let’s just say one of our bedroom looked out on a entire wall of green. Anyway they refused . they had been on Google earth and looked and it was fine. I thought … well… Sure you know. So I went and looked and then I went down to her and said, that image is at least 15 years old looking at the parked cars on it., get back to them and say. So you can bet she got her permission. She put in a car bay and like that the work was held up twice cos of roots that were like the Loch Ness monster. THIS was after all the roots had supposedly been removed. I am all for trees but they have to be maintained. Where we live it is loopyville that way.

    • Hi Shey. I hear you on that. Dale did a post about being denied permission to remove and tree, removing it anyway and being fined. Fortunately, we don’t need permits to remove elm trees. Roots are so hard to deal with.

      • Lol timothy… Little story re removing our maple sans permit. You must realise that cos this is a conservation area it is rich pickings for tree surgeons and they come by and lop off a few branches. So this day I was sitting having my coffee and the kitchen window looking at this tree which had gotten too big for our garden, was leaning, on a slope, towards our annexe bit, blocking light, creating trenches in the lawn and I wished that some nice tree felling company would just knock our door, offer to remove it, no questions asked, so I would not be spending 6 weeks in the winter out with the leaf blower because in its place I would have a little Japanese cherry. The very next this tree company arrived to cut one of the neighbour’s monstrous plane trees back and lo did they not offer to look at that maple and then, plainly on the tout for business pronounce it rotten. Being more used to dealing with the sedate people of Broughty Ferry, as opposed to someone who spent their formative years in the toughest housing estate in the city, I could tell they were a little taken aback when I said, ‘Cut the trowelling it on, what”s is the price to remove it?’ The deal was struck– an excellent deal I will say. Two weeks later the council were at the door. There’s a grass on the end of the road here and it ain’t the green variety either. Can you imagine how very shocked and troubled I was that this council official came to my door, sans mask in the middle of a pandemic??? Well??? And no, he was not getting the name of the company and no he was not getting to see the tree trunks I had for logging to see how rotten they were either. Did he not believe me or something? And yes he could go away back and put his report in about this argumentative bitch of a woman he’d dealt with and they could send the fine. A week later a letter came in saying we would have to put another tree in… And it had to be a Japanese flowering cherry. Hell if I’d known re that wish, I’d have wished for a million quid.

      • Great story. Well you just never know when you wishes will come true.

  3. I know their roots are pretty invasive. Many pavements in the city are dangerous to walk on because of them, but I kind of feel sorry for them too.
    On the skies… well… I’m a viewer in awe! 😉

  4. Tim, why are the elms being cut down? As for your sky pictures, you too are noticing the incredible drama in our skies. I am in awe of what I am seeing. I asked a neighbor just yesterday if she has noticed the drama in our skies and with her face blank, said no. I actually came out and asked, “Don’t you look up at all?” There is such beauty all around us and people are not even seeing it. Great post and thank you so much for sharing your view of the sky. WOW on those clouds!!! xo

  5. Just sitting and watching storm clouds building up has always been a favorite thing. Your photo captures the event well. Glad your elms fell to the huge weed whackers.

    • As I was telling the crew that I had cut down and cleared out all the elms in the area where they are currently clearing. You can see the size of those trees in just ten years of growth. Cloud watching is very relaxing. Then the lightning and thunder undo the clouds’ effects.

    • Thanks, Cindy. The title is a play on Led Zeppelin’s “Battle Of Evermore”, but I hadn’t been thinking about making a song. I’ll have to think about that.

    • We had elm bugs for years that didn’t kill elms, but made them sick. I haven’t seen an elm bug it years. Thanks, Brian.

  6. Nice juxtaposition, Tim! One of my kids hipped me to invasive species when they did a stint with the Conservation Corps. I knew about invasive pests for sure; we went through the Dutch Elm fiasco decades ago. The ash borer began to wreak similar havoc with ash trees here in the Midwest more recently. People had to be warned about chopping them down and carrying the wood home for firewood! Your beautiful skies are a gorgeous contrast; the painterly as Marina always says vs. man-made nonsense.

    • Thanks, Mary Jo. There is a lot of man-made nonsense out here of which the introduction of Siberian elms is one. Tamarisk and Russian Olive trees planted along the river for flood control is another.

    • They are very invasive. The trees in the photos are only 8 to 10 years old. The Black Walnut was 55 years old when it died. The elms are 40 feet tall and some have a 16″ diameter trunks. Thanks, Dale.

    • Sorry, but elms do not belong out here. They never should have been introduced into this environment. I’m not sure why people leave one place for another and then they want to make the new place like the one they left. They should have just stayed in the old place.

      • That is true, Timothy. We struggle with alien plants and trees here too. I remember reading about how Brits purchase properties in Tuscany, France and try to create English gardens.

  7. I wonder if they are the same as our elms – Ulmus procera? If so, it is a very weird thing to see them uprooted as invasive weeds when many country lovers here have been sorry to see the vast majority of ours taken out by disease, there being no vaccinations for 100 year old elm trees.

  8. Oh that makes me sad about all those trees. I guess they are mulching and providing a natural blanket for the earth, I just always hate to see trees, especially old ones cut down. Your photographs are so beautiful Tim.

    • Hi Joni. All the trees being cut down are 10 years old or younger. The only old tree that will be cut down is the black walnut that died about 5 years ago. Something killed all the black walnut trees. They are not native here and really struggled at this altitude, but the big one was 55 years old when it died. I’m going to sell the wood since black walnut is rare and expensive.

      • The elms were introduced in the late 1800s. If it was truly natural vegetation on our property, there would marsh grasses and maybe desert willow. Before the levees were built in the 1930s to control flooding, there were no cottonwoods or other tall trees close to the river like there is today. It was all mash land in the Rio Grande flood plain. I’m sending you a photo from a book called “New Mexico Then and Now” that shows a photo of the Rio Grande at the old Bernalillo bridge, ten miles north of us, taken in 1935 and the facing page has a photo of what it looks like in the same location this century.

  9. I am personally not a fan of cutting down any trees, but I understand the need to get rid of invasive species in an area. I hope that, at the very least, the trees are replaced by native trees. I’m also glad that they’re at least composting the trees, a more responsible use for discarding unwanted lumber. Where we live, people cut down trees, limbs, whatever and burn them, even with things they’re not supposed to burn, like cardboard boxes, plastic bags, wrapping paper, etc. there’s enough carbon emission already, we don’t need to be adding to it for a convenience, like cleaning up our yard, in my humble opinion.

    • We don’t burn. We put cardboard under the mulch for group cover where we don’t have plants. The cardboard and mulch compost nicely. The trees don’t get replaced. Our property is on the old floodplain of the Rio Grande, there would not be trees on the property if it was like it was before the levees were built. We have several have cottonwoods, wild plum trees and a few fruit trees.

      • Very cool, glad that you don’t burn, and my apologies if I sounded like I was implying that I thought you were, that was not my intent. Seeing your posts, it’s obvious you really care about nature. I had never made the comparison before, but New Mexico with the Rio Grande is similar to eastern Washington state, where I grew up, and the Columbia river (eastern Washington state is very arid, desert-like, probably like much of New Mexico). Before the hydroelectric dams were built, and not only the Grand Coulee Dam, the flow of the Columbia and Snake rivers were much different, and many flood plains were “wiped out” as a result, and other lakes were created as a result of damming. Sounds like your property is beautiful. ❤️

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