I’m encouraging six different maple trees to grow in our yard. I say “encouraging” because they’re all volunteers, growing from two-leaf sprouts that popped up high enough above the tops of the grass that I noticed them and stopped myself before I ran them over with the lawn mower. Then I looked around to see how close they were to the house, power lines, pavement, etc. and, deciding they weren’t a threat to any of those, detoured around them.
Hang on, make that seven. The first was a shoulder-high maple tree that was growing beside the back deck the day we moved in. There were no shade trees anywhere in the yard and I reasoned that a big, leafy maple growing beside the deck would be a good thing to have. And indeed it is: It turned out to be a very fast-growing maple, no idea which variety, but it’s now about twelve, maybe fifteen feet tall and its branches shade about half the deck. When I decided to let it grow, I did so with the thought in the back of my mind that I would cut it down if its widening trunk ever impinged on the deck, but I’ve grown so attached to it that I would now consider cutting away some of the decking to keep it a bit longer. Don’t tell My Darling B I said that; I have yet to figure out how to get her to go along with that idea.
The second one was a maple in the middle of the front yard, where there was apparently a mature maple growing many years ago before one of the house’s previous owners had it cut down because they believed they were in imminent danger of being crushed by its branches, should they fall down in a storm. There is a gaping hole in the lawn now where the stump used to be. I fill it with river rocks that B digs up from her garden, and when the hole stops gobbling them up I’ll top it off with some dirt and sow a little grass seed to cover it over. The maple that’s grown up right beside the hole may not be an offshoot of that older tree, or it may be a volunteer that fluttered into our yard from a neighboring maple, I’m not sure.
Those little propeller seeds can travel a lot farther than I ever thought they could. None of the maples in our yard seem to be related to one another. None grow as fast as the one beside the deck, for instance, and the one in the back yard by the garden appears to be a red maple. The two by the front door are growing as slowly as the one in the back yard by the shed, but that’s about the only similarity between them that I can see. All this would seem to indicated they’re the progeny of the various maple trees growing in the yards around ours, all of them more than a hundred feet away, many more than two hundred feet. Only one or two of them are more than fifty feet tall, yet so many of their propellers fall in our yard that they clog the eaves troughs and down spouts of our house completely two or three times a year.
Clogged down spouts are the only down side to having maple trees in your yard, though, as far as I’m concerned. Granted, it’s a pretty significant down side. I’d be just fine if I never had to climb a ladder to the edge of the roof ever again. I just love big, leafy trees, though, and can’t wait for them to grow big and lush enough to give us a little more shade. Or any shade at all. I’ll keep on climbing ladders for some of that.