Lately I've been working on the old fence line between the yard and the pasture. The fence is no longer dividing anything and what's left of it needs to be removed. Like many abandoned fences it became the start of a wooded corridor. There are a few large trees near the fence, in fact a large white oak simply engulfed the fence so the old fence appears to go right through the tree.
In 2008 a large sugar maple came down in a storm. The tree split into three equal forks about chest high, and all three forks came crashing down. The base of the tree was hollow, so hollow that I was amazed that the tree stood as long as it did. After eight years this is what's left.
The loss of the tree opened up the area to sunlight and numerous saplings sprang up around the tree. A few weeks ago I noticed that a number of paw paw saplings were growing in a patch near the stump. I spotted a few paw paw fruits on the branches. I don't know if any readers have ever tasted a paw paw. I found some a few years ago while hiking and found them indescribably delicious. At any rate the thought of eating ripe paw paws motivated me to remove any other tree species from the patch and let the paw paws have it to themselves.
The paw paw is an understory tree, usually growing beneath the giants. I think it's very attractive. It has large deeply veined leaves.
The largest of the paw paw saplings looks like it is well on it's way to becoming a tree, about twenty feet tall.
So far I've taken out a half dozen or so saplings that were competing with the paw paws. Most of the saplings are straight and will find use in the garden. There's still a lot of removal work to do as there are many saplings growing very close together, as well as a tangle of multiflora rose and wild blackberry in the patch. Since this is a fairly narrow corridor of woods I'm selecting for the trees I want to have and removing the rest. Near the paw paws I removed a deformed green ash to give this dogwood, the forked tree, more space. The tree to the right of the dogwood with the severe lean looks like it has died and will also be removed.
Near the old stump there are a green ash, sugar maple, and redbud tree growing within a foot or so of each other. I'll leave the redbud tree, since it's a very attractive flowering tree, and remove the others.
North of the paw paws the fence corridor broadens to about fifty feet wide and is populated mostly by tulip poplars. It looks like these trees all started at the same time, when the area, which was likely mowed or tilled, was left to its own devices as the lot was prepared for a home. I'm guessing these trees began life around 2000. Tulip poplars are very fast growing, straight trees that are often the first trees to spring up in an abandoned field. I removed a number of 'near neighbors' several years ago and the remaining trees are growing quickly. Someday they will reach a size that has commercial value but not in my lifetime. It's the wood of choice for paintable millwork, straight grained and easily milled.
North of the poplar trees, on the other side of the pond, is a fast growing sycamore tree. This tree was part of a patch of sycamores, five or six of them, that appeared about five years ago. I removed all but the largest tree and also the invasive vining honeysuckle that was engulfing them. The tree that was saved has rewarded me by growing leaps and bounds, probably four to five feet a year. That's not surprising since it has a bottomless water supply and full sunlight all day. In ten years this will be a substantial tree, if it lives to a hundred a giant. It's a tree I can admire from the deck.
That's pretty much my strategy for landscaping around the edges of the yard - find wild growing trees that I think add to the mix and remove the trees I don't want. As for the paw paw fruits, I can't find them now. Something, probably deer or raccoons, got them before I could.
The paw-paw that you describe is evidently not the same as the paw-paw I know, which is more commonly known as the papaya - a tree of the Far East. Planting trees is a very satisfying thing. I put in a couple of little 6-foot saplings in 1991 when we moved in to our current property. One of these is a Bronze Maple, which is now a lovely tree, about 20 feet tall.
A great strategy and lucky for you there are a lot of great varieties to pick from. The wooded area of our backyard is not as diverse, unfortunately, and once we get to rejuvenating it I'm not sure how much will be left as most of the trees back there are invasive buckthorns, all of which have to come out.
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