“Damage”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


I love our pine trees.  They give wonderful, dappled shade which is perfect for growing azaleas.  I use the fallen needles as mulch all around the garden.  But, there is a downside to pine trees, and that is dead limbs that become heavy after a rain and fall often crushing whatever is beneath them.  Crushing things hasn’t been too much of a problem with falling limbs, but when it does happen it can be pretty bad.  We have had small trees damaged by heavy limbs that have fallen on them, and two years ago, a large limb fell on the windshield of our vehicle which necessitated a rental car and a visit from the insurance adjuster.


Yesterday, I discovered some damage from a six foot, five inch diameter, dead branch that had become too heavy with the weekend’s rain and fell right in the middle of a row of azaleas.  The two azaleas that were damaged had just about recovered from being uprooted with a large tree that toppled during Hurricane Katrina.  In August of 2005 when they were uprooted, their roots were exposed for about two weeks before I could get them back in the ground.  They have slowly recovered, and by the end of last summer, you could barely tell they were not as big as all the others azaleas in the row.  Now, they have been smashed, and several branches have been broken off.




At least the azaleas had finished blooming, so with a little fertilizer and water, I am hoping they will recover and there won’t be a hole in the middle of a lovely row of azaleas.  One of the Easter lilies on the other side of the azaleas wasn’t so lucky.  The biggest of the lilies had its top, with a flower bud, of course, sliced off.  Several other lilies lost leaves on one side as the limb sliced through that area. 




I am sure the lily flowers will be fine, but the plants might not look so great with the beat up leaves.  It is a little disappointing to have this area damaged like this, but, I guess, it could have been worse, and I am sure everything will recover for next year.  Right now, I am not too happy with our pine trees.



  1. Phillip said,

    March 18, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    It is sad to see damage like that especially on a plant that has had a difficult time already and trying to recover. Maybe since the azalea has finished blooming, it can be cut back severely?

  2. Racquel said,

    March 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    What a shame Jan. Nature isn’t always kind to our gardens.

  3. March 18, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Mixed blessings huh? I’m sorry about your plants. I know the feeling. I did cut down all of them at our new location. They were too tall and too dangerous.

  4. Jan said,

    March 19, 2009 at 4:44 am

    Phillip, I guess I will cut them back and hope that dormant buds in the center will start to come out and fill in the open spaces.

    Racquel, yes, nature can be unfeeling to the hard work of a gardener some times.

    Anna, I would hate to cut them down since they do give needed shade in our hot summers, and trees do protect your house and roof from winds. Many of our neighbors are still cutting down the trees because of the fear that Katrina instilled. We feel if they survived Katrina and all the other storms we have had in the last 30 plus years we have lived here, our chance of them surviving another storm should be pretty good. We do, however, keep a very close eye on all our trees to make sure a weak one is identified early so we can deal with it.

  5. Janet said,

    March 19, 2009 at 4:59 am

    Jan – I am sorry to hear about the damage to your understory plants. Azaleas do recover and sometimes excel with a more drastic pruning. Luckily they are done blooming. Hard to imagine you are that far ahead of my area. Ours haven’t opened yet. Losing the Lily is frustrating. Sometimes Mother Nature is not ver nice.

  6. March 19, 2009 at 5:10 am

    I’m sorry that you had that damage, Jan, but am pretty sure that all will recover in time for next year’s glorious display. It IS a problem with pine trees, here too, where snow and ice weaken limbs in some winters and then spring winds and rain cause problems. Luckily in the yard I have only spruce, not pines, close to the house and most of the gardens, or dwarf pines that can’t cause such distress. (other trees can, but not the pines!)

  7. linda said,

    March 19, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Oh, I hope your azaleas recover Jan! I feel your pain – our neighbor had a dying weeping willow (hit by lightning a few years ago,) that came down last winter and did a lot of damage. The force of it coming down ripped a huge portion of its root ball right out of the ground as well as uprooting two mature shrubs near it’s base. The stark loss of privacy and shade in our yard is something we’re still coming to terms with. It will be years before the shrubs I planted are big enough to restore our privacy. Nature can indeed be cruel!

  8. Brenda Kula said,

    March 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I love our pine trees. But I’m not feeling the love so much when I’m out there trying to rake up pine needles that seem to get in every nook and cranny. I haven’t had any limbs fall like that, so I’ve been lucky. Hate to hear about the azaleas, which have not peaked here yet.

  9. Jan said,

    March 20, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Janet, I agree with everything you said. I will be trying to prune out the damage this weekend, and hopefully these azaleas won’t look too bad. Yes, we are way ahead of you. Even my sister in Northern Virginia says everything is still brown. I noticed just yesterday that one of the Stella d’Ora daylillies already has a bud.

    Jodi, all the the pines were here when we bought the house and have grown over the years. Like I stated before, the shade they bring is welcomed in the summer and does help with the electric bill. Some of my neighbors who cut down all there trees after Katrina were in shock last summer when they got their bills. Many were two to three times ours. So trees can really make a difference, and I’ll put up with the inconvenience of the occasional falling limb.

    Linda, I think they will recover almost fully by next bloom season. At least this happened early in the spring rather than after their growth spurt. It is a shame when you lose mature trees or shrubs as you did. We have had neighbors behind us take out all their trees, and whereas it looked like a park behind us, it now looks so barren.

    Brenda, I am not wild about the raking either, but I do like the free mulch we get from them. We have to rake about three times a year not counting if a hurricane comes through. You all have had a bit of colder weather longer than we have so I guess that is why our azaleas are almost finished and yours haven’t really started yet. Funny how areas in the same zones and not too far apart can be so different.

  10. Sweet Bay said,

    March 24, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    That happened to one of my Hammock Sweet Azaleas one year; pine tree bough fell and sheared half of it right off. I do love pine trees though, in spite of the pollen and falling limbs.

    • Jan said,

      March 24, 2009 at 7:20 pm

      Isn’t it annoying when this happens. We have had one or two small trees ruined by falling branches. I am with you, though, I wouldn’t give up my pine trees.

  11. shoreacres said,

    March 28, 2009 at 8:38 am

    What a good post to read after just doing my own bit of pondering about garden recovery post-Ike. Not only does it make clear that recovery does happen, it also points out that damage comes in a variety of forms, and we deal with it as best we can.

    I’m an apartment dweller and limited to some pots of flowers, but I do enjoy watching gardeners at work – and your work is lovely, both in the yard and on the blogs!

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