3. The domino trees - Updated Apr 2021

When we first saw this tree in July 2019 it was already substantially damaged, but it was this sight in particular that fascinated us. How could a tree fracture like that??!!

Not much changed for quite a while, except that the split seemed to expend a little. However, at some point earlier this year the split graduated to a fully qualified tear, and now the tree has a clear split that you could almost join hands through…

It may not be easy to see in the following image, but this tree and two of its neighbours are crashing into each other. This is a familiar sight all over the main woods at Stackmoor, where the shallow rooted goat willows have split asunder or just toppled into each other. In one or two places the sundered trees actually provide interesting and quite beneficial ground cover for various forms of wildlife, and at least one was home to one of the more interesting fungi colonies last year (see if you can work out which one…). Others are simply taking up space that could be better exploited by other plants, and will be dealt with in future planning applications.


This is the tree project that maybe interests and concerns us the most. Principally because we are trying to do as much of this tree work ourselves (me and my boys) as we can, but the hazardous nature of clearing some other higher, damaged branches may be beyond our amateur skill-set.


[Note: If, after March, the blog updates stop happening, it might not be unreasonable to assume the worst.]

To be continued . . . hopefully…


Well, I'm still posting updates so it hasn't all gone horribly wrong, yet.. As at March 21st my progress was thus...

. . . Umm . . . Spot the difference?

A few weeks ago the boys and I threw a rope over the high horizontal broken trunk from the neighbouring tree on the left of the first picture - the idea being that whomever drew the short straw and had to climb the ladder (5m) and saw through the 'elbow', might be a bit safer if the other two were holding the limb in check and preventing it from falling in the wrong direction. We also tried tugging on a number of broken boughs to see if any of them could be encouraged to move - but to no avail.


The next weekend I went there . . . alone . . . (really dumb, I know) and did some careful prep work - selecting a few branches that trapped or supported other branches, and cutting them to either remove them or, as caution demanded, wait for the newly inflicted damage to allow the weight of the limb itself to finish the work for me.

There were some sucesses. 1. An 8m long trunk parted company easily when I cut here, and swung into another tree it was already entangled in.

And some disappointments. 2. Another branch, that should have falen because of the large trunk section (mentioned above) already lying on it, simply twisted and sealed the cut I had just made.

We were due some more high winds (which had already done more damage when compared to the image at the top of the page) so I hoped that the next time I came down I would have less cutting and more tidying to do.


No such luck...


There was, however, more movement, and I spent two hours last Sunday (March 21st) just picking out smaller branches and limbs to remove which then allowed other limbs to be roped and hauled, this time with significantly more success. The result is that the three remaining trunk branches on the main (centre) tree are all easily dealt with now.


And as a last note in this update, I'd like to illustrate, if I can, why these goat willow trees are such poor quality (though astonishingly tenacious) wood. One branch I proposed cutting in order to remove some of the support for the neighbouring fallen tree trunk (mentioned above). This was potentially a very risky operation (hence why I didn't want my boys around incase they got hurt) because of the possibility of a sudden collapse of multiple branches...

I cut into this quite thick branch, but as you can see from the image below, I barely got 1/4 of the way through before the boughs own weight did the rest of the work for me. I heard the crack as I was sawing (I was on the sensible end of a 2.5m long pole saw) and was able to tak a step back in case of flying splinters (I was wearing PPE too - I'm dumb, not stupid). The resulting tearing of the branch is testament to how easily these trees are damaged even by their own weight...

More work planned this weekend (March 27th) and probably one last update to this blog page. After the site is cleared I will start a new thread on what the next steps are in that part of the woods.


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I had a load of stuff to do forwork, so didn't get back to Stackmoor for a couple of weeks, but in the last two weeks..... well...

As at today, Monday April 26th, this is how the tree - or what's left of it - looks.

Only one branch remains, at the back.


I cut and tidied all the fallen branches into various piles of green ends, old, rotten and green branches, longer lengths (3-4m / 12-15ft), plus some other chunks that weigh about 80-140kg (200-300lbs) each. What you see left on the ground (above) is stuff I cannot move on my own (if you don't count rolling).

On the left of this picture you see the ends of the last branch that I cut down on Sunday. It turned out to be about 12.5m (48ft) in length. The villagers may have heard me shouting "Timberrrr" as I brought it down.

....I normally sit there for a rest after cutting stuff...

And remember, all this has been cut by hand, with only a pruning saw, a Bow saw and a folding bush cutter...


I think one more update, then I can close this thread...