Winter Damage - Japanese Cherry Tree - January 2019


I was out puttering around the yard on a mild Winter day recently doing a little bit of bud inspection to see what trees had put off when I found this break in this Japanese Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Tree in the backyard.  I bought this tree in May of 2017 when it was a small (maybe .75" caliper) tree from Menards after I had just come back from my first trip to Tokyo where I saw *their* Cherry Blossom trees.  The tree (in the garden center at Menards) caught my eye because it was flowering these beautiful, puffy, almost-peony-like pink flowers.

At the end of June/early July of 2017, right when we were moving into our house in Downers Grove, I got around to planting the tree in the yard.  About half-way back in the yard, on the southside of the property.  Not sure, exactly why it ended up there.  Just *felt* right at the time.  Looking at the tree now, I think it is in a good spot and the placement ended up being appropriate.

The first season it was in the ground - Spring of 2018 - it put on a nice show with some Spring flowers.  In June of 2018, I included the Kwanzan Cherry Tree in my first (inaugural?) tree height inventory program and measured it at 112".  I posted one (not so great) photo of the tree then.

The next time I checked in on this tree was in Spring 2019 when I posted a photo of what I thought - at the time - were pre-flowering buds on the tree.  But, the tree never flowered.  Not a single flower.  Same with our Saucer Magnolia out front last year.  Guessing it was too hard of a frost over the Winter?

For timing purposes, I've claimed that the tree flowered on:
The most recent post on this particular flowering Cherry Tree was last Summer (August 2019) when I included this tree in the 2nd annual tree height inventory.  The tree is long and splayed with a couple of what appear to be lead meristems, so measuring it is getting difficult.  But, I marked it down as 15% growth YoY and +17" added to the height.  To a height of 129" overall1.  

Today, in early January 2020, I'm documenting here in the garden diary this break of a branch that is coming off the main - and most-upright - leader.  Not exactly sure what cause the break, but if you look at the photo, you can see a sort-of knuckle forming with a few other branch/branch points that have come off that portion of the tree that also appear to have snapped off/broken off.  There's also that small amount of new growth BELOW the break.  Which...based on experimenting with my espalier'd Greenspire Lindens, I know means that the new growth was force due to the trauma caused by the break.

I'll keep an eye on this section and see what happens this year.  Losing one branch - to snapping off like this - isn't a huge problem.  But, I wonder if there was a growth issue that caused it.  Had this happen before with my first Pear (fruit) tree that just snapped in half in a storm.  However, that was a braced tree and I'm pretty sure that the bracing caused the snap in heavy winds.  


1. [One thing that I need to figure out (not related to just this tree) is if I should be moving to a different measuring technique for tree growth - likely caliper sizing?  Maybe a combination of height (on some trees) and caliper on others?  More to come on that this Spring, but let's mark it down here as one of my 2020 to-do items.]   

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