Cherry Tree Crisis

Honestly, the trees on this property. First there were the stunning chestnut trees, a century old, that some “tree expert” butchered, so that they rotted from the center and almost out to the bark, all three of them. They had to be removed. Then it was the yews, as old as the house and nearly as high. Their fate was sealed the day they were planted right next to the stone walls. Honestly, I’d have rebuilt the walls around them but the previous owners sold the adjacent land. The new neighbors complained about sticky drippage on their stuff. Move the stuff? Sell me those corners of their basically ratty-looking gardens? No no, heritage be damned, the trees had to go. The law is on their side. Five gorgeous trees, gone. It still hurts.

Now I am dealing with a flock of little brown birds that have adopted my cherry tree as their new home. They are like flying sharks, tasting here, tasting there, mostly leaving debris in their wake. In previous years the cherries ripened sooner. The birds flocked in but there were ripe cherries enough for all, so we coexisted. This year has been cold. The cherries are not ripe. We don’t touch them. The birds do and you can see what they think.

I tried that green netting stuff. The birds liked it pretty well. They took to hanging out beneath it. Then this morning one got stuck in the netting. I think he broke a wing. I went to to disentangle him, feeling guilty as can be. I want them gone but not through dying slow, painful deaths. I did manage to cut the netting away but he can’t really fly. Jacques had a wonderful time chasing a little brown thing along the ground. I can tell right now that Jacques won’t make much of a mouser. When the little guy would stop, Jacques would stop right over him and sniff — didn’t try to pick him up and blessedly didn’t try to break his neck. Eventually, of all things, the bird found a hole in the ground and escaped.

He’s in there somewhere.

Now I don’t know what to do. Trees going, cherries going, I just attacked the birds, my dog just attacked the birds, it’s bad. I can’t find this guy and take him to the vet. Out here they laugh at you for that sort of thing. So, I don’t know. I guess I’ll just take down the netting and leave propitiatory offerings of, why not, fallen cherries. Maybe the guy will pull through on his own. If Jacques doesn’t get him.

32 thoughts on “Cherry Tree Crisis

  1. You sound a little gloomy today? Come on, I’m the one who needs cheering up here!
    I love that Jacque chases but does no harm. reminds me of a personal funny dog story

    1. The next post will be cheerier. I’m afraid to believe it but they are wrapping this place up. I now have a working stove and refrigerator. I thought this day would never come. Actually I think next week will be all about finishes.

      1. Sounds good to me.
        Hope the serious progress continues without too many hiccups.
        I shall vicariously enjoy your sprint to the finish line, so plenty of posts please to distract me!

  2. We bought our place for the trees, which were over 50 years old then. Lovely shade. I don’t understand the logic of lotissements, where there are no trees, or you have to wait for 50 years. People who live there say it’s cleaner and less work. But, I think, they look like parking lots, with houses and cars. No soul.
    I would feed the birds if I were you. In fact, we have a cherry tree and have gotten exactly one bowl of cherries from it. But the birds are sated.
    Our previous house had gigantic trees, planted 30 years earlier. Saules. They sucked the water out of the always-damp soil. After we sold, the neighbor sued the new owner to have the trees taken down. Because there were leaves in his yard. For crying out loud. He won. The trees were cut.

    1. Leaves? That’s worse than my neighbors. And actually these neighbors are worse than American neighbors about disrespecting trees. I don’t get it, either. The laws here and in the States are similar. The difference is that here the neighbors are right out there cutting back the branches and all. In the States there is a problem only if the trees are a hazard. That’s understandable.

      People who don’t like trees should live in apartments and take their kids to the park.

    1. Jacques has been trying his best, too — to get into the guy’s little hidey-hole and take him out. “Jacques and the Disabled Bird” could be its own post but then people wouldn’t like him much any more.

  3. Cherry season has been pretty abysmal here in the Charente Maritime too. Last year we had so many, there were plenty to go around, we had our share and the birds had the top half, the ones we couldn’t reach even with a tall ladder. This year however, there were not enough to go round and the birds won. I would take your net down so no other birds get trapped in it and just let them have the cherries, sometimes it’s just best to let nature win! We took a sick chicken to the vets last year and are still the laughing stock of the village for it, in a very good natured way!!!

  4. That’s horrible about the Chestnuts. Having paid to make them look better only to lose them. uh.

    Maybe put in some Ginko or Poplar along the back wall. Maybe ask the neighbors what they would like in your garden. I love trees. I wonder if you could get some Redwoods going. There seems to be fog much of the year. And they would be very exotic over there.

    Erin Todd 559-300-4033


  5. There are laws about how far from a boundary trees are to be, planted and how high they can be. Fine when you own the surrounding land but not when it has been split off from the estate: did your notaire not warn you? What miserable neighbours.
    As for the cherry trees, my neighbour used to play a radio under his…failed. Then he tried putting a cage of guinea fowl there…failed.
    Then he committed the cardinal sin of going out to a meeting as the cherries turned red. I have rarely seen such a flock of birds in one place at one time and he was in the domestic dog house for weeks.

    1. The neighbors are apparently quite friendly. The thing is, they are cheap, in a small-minded, miserly way. If you only look at money, you really don’t see anything else. I’ll do a lotissement rant some other time. Right now I’m wondering where Madame was, if the cherries were so important to her.

      1. Madame? Strict division of labour. Inside the house and the flower beds her…everything else, him.

        Living in France I often used to wonder what had happened to a nation which could once have created so much beauty….and now seemed to have lost its eyes.
        A bit like your electrician..helpful, efficient, but no eye for effect.

        1. I wonder, too. Did WW2 grind everybody down? I honestly don’t get it. It’s not indifference, more of a blind spot. It’s not universal but it can be pretty bad.

          1. I think you are right when it comes to being a blind spot…they just do not seem to get it. French friends (with eyes) reckoned that it comes from the restrictive national education system!

          2. How funny. Anything is possible, though I’m not sure how the educational system has changed in the 20th century. My own new French family is stunningly well educated and they all have excellent taste. Maybe it’s the ones caught in the middle of the pack who are like that. Maybe it’s a class warfare kind of thing. Hard to say.

          3. Their point was that the French education system generally is one where those undergoing the ordeal accept information and regurgitate it. Can talk about a great deal of stuff with chapter and verse, but leaves a gap where originality should be.
            How this translates into the lack of eyes I am not sure but suspect that they mean that if you are not taught to see something, you won’t!

          4. Yes, that could be. It’s an odd thought that aesthetics and appreciation for natural surroundings should have to be taught but I can definitely see that. These guys bought a plot on some lotissement map and as far as they see it, that’s the whole story. If the tree wants a say, let it pay up. It’s the kind of thinking that would fit with that kind of education.

            I was just reading about public subsidies for education in France. Apparently the school has to have some sort of approved curriculum. The writer was upset that Montessori schools have never been able to make the list. Well, if ever there were a system that was incompatible with rote learning, it would be Montessori. No wonder they can’t get approved.

          5. A friend who used to run a bookshop in the Latin quarter said that you could describe French education as a system in which not only is there only one approved answer to every question, but there is also only one approved question..

    1. I think they are just bog standard red cherries. The photo doesn’t show an exotic variety. The actually show how cold it has been. It’s July and the cherries are still only half ripe.

  6. I’m afraid that neighbours in any language can be a pain. It;s how most lawyers make their money in England – neighbourly disputes. I’d let the birds have the cherries and buy mine in the market but my husband would have a different view.

    1. This year we have no real choice. Just since I wrote that post, the birds have picked the tree bare. This is new this year. I wonder whether the crazy weather has eliminated other food sources.

      1. That is very possible. I have written to my mother and asked for advice for you …. She’s 83 and a pretty savvy old school gardener having had gardeners all her life …. She also lives in the cherry capital of England πŸ™‚ at least she might help next year. The Bean sends her best to Jacques in his quest to keep evil intruders at bay – she chases and then had no idea what to do if she corners something though she did once nearly bite a mouses tail!!! Bon courage mon ami

        1. Really? She gardens? I want to have her stay here for maybe a month or two, to explain to me what I got myself into with this huge, to a city kid, property. The thing is, I watch “Gardener’s World,” or whatever it’s called, fairly often. If that guy and his Golden Retriever can be believed, there is no way she can break away for that long.

          Honestly, this crop devastation is an anomaly. Normally everybody, human and avian, just pig out to their heart’s content. Something is different this year, maybe the weather, I don’t know. I think the birds may have no other food source.

          1. She does. Sadly she refuses to travel now though I am working on her coming to France when we return in Autumn. I spoke to her and she says that if this has never happened before it is almost certainly a lack of food given the wet and relative cold summer. The babies will be fledging and the parents start to need food for themselves after the weeks of brooding and feeding the young. She suggests perhaps putting feeders out in another part of the garden to train them to expect food in the hope that they won’t notice the cherries next year. Her major issue is Heron attacking her water garden for fish …. She puts that down to the rivers flowing faster than normal for the time of year. I follow a couple of excellent blogs on gardening – when I’m at my computer and not squinting at my phone I’ll send links to you – they are both people who would happily engage in conversation and ask questions πŸ™‚

          2. Yes, I would love those links. I have a buddy who is a serious garden designer but I hate to bug her with every little thing. Thus the fixation on “Gardener’s World.”

            So your mom has a water garden? Next time someone teases me about the size of this place I will point out that really, I have no space for a water garden. I think she is right about the cherries being their only source of food. They seemed like hungry birds. They emptied that tree in about three days, even cleaning up those dropped cherries that I photographed. Jacques could chase them away but they would come right back, which is unusual. They will notice the cherries, who wouldn’t, but feeders are probably a good idea. We need the birds, even if they are sometimes pests.

          3. That’s exactly what I would say too – we are constantly told that we are looking for too much land in France and I retort with – ‘not really … I mean I don’t think there’ll even be space for a maze’ πŸ˜‰ I will come through with the links, I promise πŸ™‚

          4. Well okay, I could do a maze, a small one. Actually I was thinking of a whole forest of trees, set back from the walls, of course, to screen and spite the neighbors. Gingkos? Redwoods are talking to me, saying they want me to make a fairy ring. I’ll have to think about it.

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