Diagnostics: Who Knows Most About the Plants?

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  On Vesey Street in downtown Manhattan, between the 9/11 memorials and the Irish Hunger Memorial along the Hudson River, is a row of Chinese elms in a streetscape. Recently, as I was walking there I noticed two of the elms with thinning foliage, and for that matter they were set apart by big-time protective railings and stakings and alone among the row, Treegators, extra factors that turned out to be mostly non-sequiturs, but did initially catch my eye.


CHinese elms thinning and damaged by steam


  As I milled about, trying to make sense of all this, I noticed that security guys were equally puzzled by this doofus with his camera. So, I explained that I was trying to deduce what was wrong with the trees, and they both said one word: Steam. The struggling plants were replacements, possibly second replacements, and the Battery Park City horticulturists had been seen about, taking soil temperatures.


Steam valves and elms


Steam valve with moisture evident





  Way high for the two trees.  As we talked, and looked at some valves, present only for these two trees, wisps of steam did emerge. Landscape maintenance meet landscape architecture: hardscape meet treescape. This relates to Question #9 of our 23 Questions of Plant Diagnostics: Who Knows Most About the Plant?


  In this case, at least in part, the security guys that had seen the scene change over the past months were those guys. I should have better observed the valves and pondered more linearly (Question #8 is “What is the Site”), but sometimes you cannot beat the woman or man on the scene.


Thinning elm and Freedome Tower in background