This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

When goats go bad . . .

. . . they eat the bark off your finest garden specimens, in this case a beautiful upright 'Persian ironwood' (Parrotia persica).  Seriously, if you want a nice garden, don't keeps goats, and especially don't give them free reign as my family and I did. (In fact a couple times we came home and found them camped out on the living room couch, where they rested while digesting their generous meal of succulent house plants.)

But here's something I was surprised to see: the goats ate the bark all the way around, but the tree didn't die.  The first year it produced new bark, sent sprouts up from the base, and the crown remained full and deep green. 

the trunk in year 2
Year two, the new bark has developed impressively. Unfortunately the crown is very thin, and I can't predict if I'll have to cut the tree back to its sprouts.

My understanding: the goats didn't touch the water-conducting xylem, so the roots were able to supply the crown with water. However, the goats did eat the outer phloem which conducts photosynthates to the roots. Basically the roots have been starved. I'm leaving the basal sprouts in hopes that the low foliage will help the roots recover.  

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