Weeping White Spruce New Spring Growth - May 2022

Every year, we go on a little vacation to Wisconsin or somewhere else where we find ourselves away from our house for a number of weeks in a row.  Each year, I try to set up an irrigation system that provides enough water to allow for the plants, shrubs and trees - as well as the grass - to simply survive. 

In most years, we usually get a LITTLE lucky and get a rain event once or twice while we're gone and most everything survives.  

Last year, we went on vacation in the middle of the Summer and weren't lucky enough to have that rain event.  Couple that with a REALLY dry Spring (Drought) and my sprinkler setup not covering EVERYTHING and we have things die out.  

One of the specimens who suffered last year was the Weeping White Spruce columnar tree that is planted on the southside of our beds, near the Lindens that are espalier'd.  By mid-July last year, it was showing a bunch of needle drop - when we came back from vacation.  And by September, it had gotten worse.  Dead branches in a bunch of spots - including (gulp) the leader.   But, by Fall (October) it seemed to have stabilized and stopped dropping needles.  I was hopeful.

This Spring, I went out and pruned all the dead branches away.  And lop'd off the dead leader in hopes of providing for a new, healthy leader. 

This week, as I was on one of my morning garden walks, I was happy to see a flush of new growth on this columnar tree.  See below for the light greenish/bluish growth on the tips of the branches:

Really nice to see, right?  I went in for a closer look.  And sure enough....right where I pruned-off the dead apical meristem...what do we have?  See below:


A new, fresh leader.  With needle growth.  How great, right?

Now, this *does* appear to be good news - the tree has seemingly recovered from drought stress last year.  But, I've been down this road before with a different conifer tree: I see a flush of new growth only to see it followed IMMEDIATELY by the tree going into hard decline and turning brown.  Happened exactly that way with this small Fraser Fir that I planted just about four years ago (early June 2018).  Planted in early June, a month later, saw a HUGE flush of new growth.  By August it was brown and dead.  

Seems that one of two things happened:  either the flush of new growth was the trees LAST.DYING.GASP of trying to extend its own life.  Or...the new flush of growth was unsustainable and by putting too much energy into that new growth, it left the tree open to heading into decline.

My plan is to continue to monitor this tree closely over the next week or two and make sure it gets adequate water during this growth period to sustain it and send it further up.  

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