my life in the land down under

Leave a comment

The Saga of the Cedar

Once upon a time…

…there was a Himalayan Cedar, aka Cedrus deodara, a huge tree which was planted next to our garage and overshadowed the house. In stormy weather we watched the branches toss and hoped none would land on a car parked beneath. It dropped numerous cedar needles and bits of cone onto the house roof (and everywhere else if the weather was wild). The roof valleys and gutters had to be cleared out regularly or they would overflow when we had heavy rain. I’m not particularly afraid of heights, but still found it a challenge to climb onto the roof to carry out this chore; there was an instinctive discomfort caused by the change in perspective.

Cedar & clouds

Cedar trunk

In spring the tree dropped a fine yellow pollen which covered the ground and the vehicles, not good for the hayfever-prone members of the family. Several of our neighbours also complained about the size of the tree and the shadow it cast over their houses, especially as it blocked the low winter sun. Eventually we approached the council with a petition to have the tree removed and replaced with a more suitable ‘street tree’. This involved attending a council meeting to formally put our case, including the use of photos we had taken as ‘evidence’. When our desire to have the tree removed was reported in the online version of one of the local papers, we received some criticism for being tree-haters – and the anonymous critic was sure we must also hate birds and children…!! Nothing could be further from the truth. Two members of the household at that time had chosen to work with children – one in the nursing field and the other teaching in an early childhood centre – so it caused us a mix of amusement and annoyance. During this time we discovered some of the history of the tree and it proved to be over 40 years old, having been planted by the original owners of our house.

Cedar – new growth

Cedar needles & cones

Some of the discarded needles & cones that filled our gutters

I was sad to see the tree go as I loved the look of it – but had to be practical. I was at work when the arborists came to take it down, but made John promise to take lots of photos. It was a big deal with the street closed and traffic management personnel keeping an eye on proceedings as the tree was removed branch by branch. Some of the larger branches had to be lowered by rope and the main trunk was cut into thirds and lifted off with a crane. We were impressed to see a woman taking the lead in this job which obviously involved a lot of strength and skill.

Arborist at work #1 (photo by John)

Arborist at work #2 (photo by John)

Arborist at work #3 (photo by John)

Cedar removal (photo by John)

Topping the tree (photo by John)

Sectioning the trunk (photo by John)

Crane lifting cedar trunk (photo by John)

Before the event, we had discussed whether we should get the tree properly milled and use the wood for a much-needed new fence, but the potential cost outweighed the benefits. We ended up with a pile of firewood which was sold as a fundraiser for a local group, and later in the week the aborists returned to grind the stump. I was able to count the rings to confirm the tree was as old as we had thought. We miss this landmark – it was a beautiful specimen – but don’t miss the mess it caused.

Forty-something rings


Cedar diameter

Trimming cedar stump #1

Trimming cedar stump #2

Stump grinding



GOYA – Wood we or woodn’t we?

Here’s the follow-up to my previous post on GOYA, as promised.

The Set Subject for the day was ‘Wood’ – interpreted any way we liked. Some of the group headed off to an area with old buildings, others were talking about a park with lots of lovely trees, so I fully expected some shots with gorgeous autumn colours to appear in the final entries.

John & I travelled about an hour out of town to attend an appointment with a client. When we got there we discovered they lived in a two-storey wooden house surrounded by bush. After we had been there a while and had a cuppa with them I explained about GOYA and asked permission to take some photos inside the house. We saw some of his wooden carvings and she told me a story about a tree near the house – when the fruit ripens at this time of year, the tuis get drunk on it and their birdsong goes all wonky – they make strange sounds amongst their musical notes anyway, but apparently they go way out of tune. I think she called it a strawberry tree (?).

After we left them we visited a local boat ramp with a wooden jetty and boat sheds. A man who lived up the hill saw us photographing and came down to talk with us – when we explained our subject was ‘wood’ he led us up the hill to a group of very tall trees and recommended we lie on our backs in the undergrowth and photograph upwards, which John proceeded to do (earlier he also lay full length on the jetty to get a different perspective; he is much more adventurous than I am). I was a bit lazier and just stood looking up with my camera, but had to lean on a tree to keep from falling over backwards. I think this is called ‘serendipity’ as we had no idea the trees were there.

We travelled a bit further looking for interesting ‘wood’ subjects, and found an old barn which John also got a great shot of, using a wooden fence to frame it (which I hadn’t even thought of). We saw lots of autumn colour but decided not to photograph any of it, as expected we would have some competition from those who went to the park.

After arriving home, doing some editing with Adobe Lightroom / Photoshop, and asking the opinion of other family members, we decided on our entries and emailed them through to Jason (GOYA organiser) on Sunday. Then we had to wait until our camera club meeting on Thursday night to find out how we’d done.

There were a number of great entries but apparently the majority really liked the trees, and so I won the Popular Choice vote! Jason tells me my prize is free coffee & cake at the next GOYA meeting, so I’m hoping he organizes it on a day I’m not rostered to work.

Old Barn

Awesome Foursome