The Liquidamber Tree, or American Sweetgum, was planted by the last family who lived in our house so it must be around eighteen to twenty years old. Every autumn its leaves turn from green, to yellow, to red and then to deep maroon. A beautiful tree.
From the grass, it looks lush and sturdy, but this is deceptive. If you walk around the tree, one half of it is split, broken and waiting for surgery after one night this week when we had strange, localised winds that rushed through the trees on the edge of a storm. In the morning, I looked out of the window to find a main limb of the tree splitting away.
The following day, the split had grown and another limb had fallen, fully leaved, across the garden.
We sawed and cleared as much as we could, but already the weight of the broken branches had torn the trunk in half and the upper branches look precarious. A tree surgeon is to be called as the whole of the right side needs to be pruned and I expect those upper branches will need to be felled.
The extreme wetness of this spring and summer, followed by a few hot , sunny weeks, has made the tree grow more vigorously than in other years. We wonder if the extra growth and heavy foliage has overburdened its branches, The wood of the Liquidamber is known for its brittle quality. This year, even the stronger stems could not cope.
Piles of foliage are waiting in the yard, to be composted or burned. As many logs as possible will be saved for the fire.
I only hope that an expert tree cutter will be able to reshape both sides of the tree so that it can survive and start again.