This was our neighbor's 40' tall weeping willow. It was struck by lightning 6 or 7 years ago. It's been slowly dying since. The willow came down in the middle of the night during a blizzardy January snow storm.
It was behind three pine trees at the back of our property. and added substantially to our back yard's privacy. Although it's now lying across our neighbors' back lawn, it still screens the view between us. When the willow came down, it took another tree and at least two large shrubs with it - broke the tree's trunk in half and pulled the shrubs right out of the ground with it's own decaying roots. The losses are stark.
Because the willow was on the north side of our yard, the impact on our shade garden is minimal. The garden is protected under its own dense canopy of three mature maples and is sheltered on the west by a mature arborvitae hedge. The lawn on the other hand, will get more afternoon sun. This makes DH happy, since it's not easy growing a lawn in so much shade.
This is the bottom of the trunk. See the roots? There's a web of fibrous roots on the left in this photo, you can see the woody roots sticking out the bottom. This tree 'broke' far underground. There's a crater where a tree once stood.
This was a good spot for a weeping willow. That's become increasingly obvious as it's slowly declined. Each year the ground back there has become wetter as the willow declined.
This was the view of the back of our property between two of our pines. Notice the cool, deep shade and the nearly solid wall of privacy?
Since the willow fell in January, I've been mulling over what to plant to give us back our privacy. This area used to be deep shade, now it will be part sun, and boggy. We need tall shrubs that can handle winter and spring flooding and summer dry periods. I've never had a wet area like this to plant, and am looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity. I hope to improve drainage in this problem area with the right selection of shrubs.
My short list includes red twig dogwood, willows, arrowwood viburnum, arborvitaes, and winterberries. We have a hedge of cornelian cherry dogwoods at the northwest corner of our property that puts up with wet feet. We could plant more of them. A weeping willow already thrived there for decades until being hit by lightning, and it improved drainage. Would other willow varieties fare as well? Arborvitaes would give us year-round screening. What conifers can deal with the water? The viburnums sucker, would they be invasive? Which willows are best suited to this boggy spot? Which varieties have the prettiest catkins? What combination of shrubs would provide the best bird food and sanctuary?
These are are the burning questions that boggle my mind. We have decisions to make, shrubs to purchase and plant, and outdoor living to do, so time is of the essence! Any ideas internets? sage wisdom or advice? I'm dying to hear what you think.