Damage Limitation


Looking out of the window one day early last week I noticed something wasn’t right. Of all the storms that have come through here this winter, the one on Valentine’s Day seemed to be the worst. Certainly the wind was at its strongest. Allegedly over 60 mph.

We set off down to the river to see why the conifer had started to lean.


Storm Damage 003 Wm[1]


More than one had tipped over, quite a domino effect.

The wind tearing through the bottom of the river valley has done further damage too.


Storm Damage 001 Wm[1]


Both of these will have to come out. The one on the right has pulled its root ball out of the ground and is leaning on another across the other side of the river.


Storm Damage 002 Wm[1]


While this tree will be a job left for the professionals, Mike wasn’t done yet. He reckoned he could do something with the conifers which were just tilting. I have to say I was sceptical in the extreme, they are such tall trees. But give him his due, he would not be put off.


Storm Damage 006 Wm[1]


 Winch, ready for action..

Woman and birds retreated to a safe distance to watch.


Storm Damage 008 Wm[1]


 The trees coming back upright


Storm Damage 005 Wm[1]


And securely held in place.

Why doesn’t rope look like rope anymore? Why does it have to be blue?


Storm Damage 007 Wm[1]



Not even an earthquake has managed to shift it.


2018-03-12T17:16:38+00:00February 22nd, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Jo February 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    There’s been so much damage caused by the storms this year. We’ve been so lucky here, we’ve got away with very little damage. Glad you’ve managed to sort the conifers out but it’s such a shame about the others.

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 5:42 pm - Reply

      I hope you managed to get your greenhouse fixed up though..

  2. Simone February 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    That looks like quite a bit of damage there Jessica. I noticed something not quite right in our tiny garden and realised ‘the space’ was caused by the fallen 10 foot high shrub! Dealing with that pales in comparrison with all your fallen trees. x

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      It’s not fair though when you’ve got your garden nicely balanced and then suddenly there’s a gap. Especially if it was a much loved shrub.

  3. Pauline February 22, 2014 at 12:50 pm - Reply

    Well done on getting the conifers upright once more, I didn’t feel the earthquake, did you? On the news they said you had to be high up to feel it, not at ground level. Let’s hope that is the last “nasty ” that nature throws at us!

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      I didn’t feel it at all, so it was quite a surprise to hear about it on the news. I’d like to think that will be the last of it, but it’s getting stormy again next week apparently.

  4. Crafty Gardener February 22, 2014 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Well done Mike. Hoping these terrible storms come to an end soon.

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm - Reply

      If it is going to get colder for you again that will drive more storms our way. That’s what is forecast anyway. I hope we all get more signs of Spring soon!

  5. Sue. February 22, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    A tree saved.

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm - Reply

      Two. I hope!

  6. Abby February 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Well done that man! The blue re is rather ‘ in your face’, but perhaps it means the birds won’t garrot themselves on it?! X

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      That’s a good point. I bet it even shines at night!

  7. rachel February 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    That man is a star, isn’t he?

    We missed the earthquake entirely, rather to my disappointment, although some locals reckon they felt it but thought it was a large truck rumbling past. It’s not all uneventful here, though – we live under the threat of a tsunami in the Bristol Channel, as well as all the risks from Hinckley Point – thankfully all theoretical so far!

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm - Reply

      Best say it quietly..
      How far are you from the sea? Though in the event of a big tsunami I think a lot of us would go under.

  8. justjilluk February 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Amazed that that could be done!

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:04 pm - Reply

      I was truly amazed. Those trees are easily 50 foot tall. But they are also quite spindly and only have leaves at the top, not so heavy maybe.

  9. Jayne Hill February 22, 2014 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    “Applause, applause” followed by a big drink for Mike :}

    What with storms and now an earthquake you have to wonder what our weather systems will deliver next?

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:06 pm - Reply

      Yes, he had one of those! I think he was quite surprised too if he’s honest.

  10. elaine February 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Clever old Mike – will the rope be there permanently – perhaps you could deck it with bunting or maybe hang out your washing – lovely in a woodland setting.

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      Bunting would be nice. There are too many birds around for washing!
      It will certainly be there for a while, the roots need time to re-establish themselves in the soil.

  11. Sue@GLAllotments February 22, 2014 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    We once had a row of young conifers at a school I taught at that were stamped on and almost broken through – just a tiny bit attached. I bandaged them all and the actually recovered – tough things. I agree that it is a pity the rope is blue but full marks to Mike for effort

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      It was much easier than we thought, not wishing to play down his effort of course. It always amazes me that grafting works, but of course it does.

  12. wherefivevalleysmeet February 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    I live high but did not feel the earthquake – that is exactly what my husband would do, he hates things to die. His attitude, however, could have consequences for me when I am toppling on my perch – preserve at all costs!!!

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Rosemary I hope there will be a good many years before there is any toppling!

  13. Denise February 22, 2014 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    This weather has certainly done much to change the landscapes of Britain. Most admirable effort by your Mike! Well done, that man!

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      It certainly has.
      He will argue that it is all the meat he eats and therefore I will never be allowed to convert us to vegetarianism.

  14. islandthreads February 22, 2014 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    Jessica relived to read it was only the trees and not near your house and well done Mike for saving some of them, falling trees do often have a domino effect, I remember a park of ancient oaks near where I lived then was destroyed in the 1987 tornado across southern England and in Jan’ 2005 a much worse than our usual storm wiped out many trees in the castle grounds Stornoway, leaving the upturned stumps can give homes to wildlife both flora and fauna, mother nature will probably provide covering for those blue ropes come summer, Frances

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      I didn’t notice these trees leaning for a couple of days as I’d been far more concerned about the ones closer to the house. If mother nature doesn’t I will give her a helping hand. There is plenty of ivy down there.

  15. SeagullSuzie February 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Wow, what a clever guy, shame to see so much damage to our beautiful trees.

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:27 pm - Reply

      The only consolation is that the trees were a bit congested down there, the woodland needs thinning in any case. It’s just a shame that the ones you might want to keep are the ones that fall, which is why we’ve tried to save the pretty clump of conifers next to the river.

  16. Suzanne Dutchess County, NY, USA February 22, 2014 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    I hope the roots rebound and hold so you can get rid of the rope.i have done something similar, but nothing that large. I’ve winched up mature conifer shrubs in a pool planting. Over thirty years old and planted when the pool was installed. I’ve tried to release the neon yellow rope after a few years and the rootball is just too loose to hold. The client is uncomfortable with change and I am worried that if I tried to move the rootball out I’d compromise the side of the pool and the others shrubs. So it stays until it browns off enough to be an eyesore.

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      The soil down at river level is very boggy, especially this year after all the rain. Which is presumably why we’ve had so much damage in the first place. Our big worry is that the trees swaying around will start to pull out the stronger one that they’re tied to. But little choice really, we’d need a pile driver to put in a strong enough stake!

  17. Amy at love made my home February 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Wow, Mike has done an amazing job on the trees!! I hope that they now stay put and that you get just get the other ones that have totally gone over removed. I have no idea why rope now comes in blue, we had some in our garden holding up the fence for a while – it is so attractive!! My hubby says that it is so you see it and don’t walk into it and cause yourself all sorts of damage, so I see that he has a point, but even so! Take care out there doing your tree works. xx

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      Yes, I can see the reasoning behind the fluorescent rope. It’s not a good look though is it?

  18. snowbird February 22, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    Gosh, I’m almost speechless re what Mike has done with the trees, hats off to him. Could I borrow him next time we have a storm? please????? Pretty please????
    As Amy says though, you take care when working by those big trees, so many of them have sat waterlogged and their roots have nothing to hang onto making them so dangerous in the wind.xxx

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      That is exactly the problem snowbird, and the reason I fear high winds at the moment. More due next week too.

  19. angiesgardendiaries February 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Mike has done a marvellous job Jessica. I hope they survive. Things could have been much worse and as has been said already, take care when you are down there.
    As for the rope….I had to buy rope to tie down the boot of the car this afternoon – you are right, it just isn’t rope – it doesn’t tie quite the same and always such awful colours. Probably health and safety lead!

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      I remember a few years back I wanted ‘proper’ rope for something, curtain tie backs I think, had to go to a chandler in the end.

  20. Chloris February 22, 2014 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    What a handy person to have about the place. That is an amazing job.
    I was a bit perturbed to see what looks like a mud monster hoisting himself out of the mud on the 4th photo. Do take care next time you are in your lovely wood.

    • Jessica February 22, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      It’s awesome isn’t it. A wide open maw..

  21. Janet/Plantaliscious February 22, 2014 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Goodness, that is some dramatic damage Jessica, such a sad sight, so many trees uprooted. Am impressed at the rescue mission. Non-blue rope is much more expensive. Vile stuff, isn’t it. Do you think the uprighted trees will settle in to the vertical again given a year or two? And what will you do with all that wood to be generated by the pros when they come riding in with their fancy machinery and mad climbing skills? I always love watching tree surgeons doing their thing.

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:32 am - Reply

      I hope the uprighted trees will settle, but being tall and spindly they really whip around in the wind… like they are doing today!
      The wood is something of a contentious issue. Firewood is the answer but we have huge stockpiles already which I refuse to use. We have a wood burner, which is bad news in a thatch. When funds permit we’ll take it out and revert to an open fire.

      • Janet/Plantaliscious February 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm - Reply

        That’s ironic, we have an open fire and I would dearly love a wood burner, but we’ll probably end up blocking in the chimney and having a gel fire for when we get power cuts. Pity we can’t swap!!

        • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 4:23 pm - Reply

          There have been instances of thatch fires started by wood burners. The heat created in the flue is so intense that it can cause spontaneous combustion in the straw, where the chimney passes through the roof. It’s a rare event, but I just don’t want to risk it.

  22. Cathy February 22, 2014 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Ah – the blue rope trick….. I know it well – our old plum tree is still decorated with the stuff 🙂 Well done for the rescue!

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:33 am - Reply

      I wonder if you can get blue rope with integral fairy lights?

  23. CJ February 22, 2014 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    I know what you mean about blue rope, it’s very disappointing. A good job done on those conifers. I did something similar with my little pear tree back when it had leaves on it. I missed the earthquake, I was most disappointed. How did I not notice the earth moving???

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:45 am - Reply

      I know what you mean about missing the earthquake, just glad no damage was done. Our house has no foundations, which would have been a bit of a worry. Perhaps that makes it better though, I don’t know!

  24. CherryPie February 22, 2014 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Fair play to his determination 🙂

    A lot of trees have fallen in the Shropshire countryside near to where I live.

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:48 am - Reply

      It’s sad to see isn’t it. I suppose that’s how nature deals with thinning out. The stronger ones will live on and have more light in which to grow.

  25. nataliescarberry February 23, 2014 at 1:24 am - Reply

    Oh my that must have been an awful storm. I’m so sorry some trees were lost and others damaged. Looks like Mike did a good job of pulling the leaning ones up. Blessings, Natalie :

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:50 am - Reply

      We’ve been lucky Natalie. We weren’t flooded, and nothing has fallen on either us or the house. This winter has been devastating for much of the UK, and North America too I know. Hurry up Spring!

  26. Linda February 23, 2014 at 1:47 am - Reply

    I am starting a world wide petition…
    Sign up if you have had enough of old man winter…
    3 cheers for Spring…..
    Hip hip hooray!
    Hip hip hooray!
    Hip hip hooray!
    Ok……my work here is done……thank you……thank you very much….

    Linda :o)

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:50 am - Reply

      Where do I sign!

  27. Vera February 23, 2014 at 7:21 am - Reply

    We have had several of our trees go down during the floods. They can’t be retrieved though, so to firewood they will go. Well done your hubs for saving the conifers, and I hope they stay put!

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:52 am - Reply

      It’s dreadfully windy again here this morning. If they survive the next week I will feel more confident!

  28. Joanne February 23, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Oh dear, it sounds good news for your conifers though.

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:53 am - Reply

      So far so good, don’t like the look of the weather forecast though.

  29. Anna February 23, 2014 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Glad to read that some of the storm damage could be rectified Jessica and hope that the conifers stabilise. It’s always so upsetting when trees come down. Here in the north west we were hit by violent winds on the 12th February, when a tree came down blocking our lane blocking our access to the main road. It happened not long after himself went to work and before our neighbours had planned on going out for the evening so we are all just so relieved that it happened when it did!

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:54 am - Reply

      I remember that storm too. It must be the cumulative effect of so much wind and rain that is causing all the damage.

  30. frayed at the edge February 23, 2014 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Well done Mike! At least he didn’t cut a bit off your washing rope to tie trees to their stakes, meaning you couldn’t hang out the washing until you bought a new one ……… looking on the bright side, that rope was white!!

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 10:59 am - Reply

      When we moved here I started putting washing out in the garden. It lasted about a week, until I got fed up of re-washing everything to get rid of the bird poop. Luckily our super-inefficient boiler provides for the ideal drying cupboard.

      • Janet/Plantaliscious February 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm - Reply

        I am so glad I am not alone experiencing this problem! Though sadly our boiler is very efficient, hence finally succumbing to a tumble dryer 🙁

        • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm - Reply

          The seagulls must be a real problem! When the inevitable happens, boiler is 30 years old, I may well have to do the same.

  31. Rosie February 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Job well done in winching up the conifers! What is it about blue rope? Green would look much better or even proper rope colour – perhaps it is blue so that it can be spotted and avoided so you don’t run into it? We have a plum tree branch with some blue rope holding it uo:)

    • Jessica February 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      I think you’re right about it being spotted easily. Hopefully it will fade in the fullness of time, or I’ll run some Ivy up it! At the moment I’ll just be glad if it’s still in place by the end of the week, another windy one by all accounts and very wild out there this afternoon. Keep warm.

  32. colleen February 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Welld done, Mike!
    I suppose rope doesn’t look like rope these days so we don’t trip over it, which is all very sensible.

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 9:57 am - Reply

      I am glad you can’t see my study right at this moment.. no blue ethernet cable today, but it has been replaced by an orange one AND a yellow one. The orange one gives me power for the laptop, the yellow one powers the drill just outside the door. 🙁

  33. wherethejourneytakesme February 23, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Oh Jessica I am so encouraged by your pictures – we have a leaning pine and we wondered if there was anything that could be done to keep it from toppling. It has been on the lean for over a year do you think it would be too late now to have a go at straightening it. Can you tell me exactly what you have done I can’t quite tell from the pics. I can see the winch and the rope but not if it is then anchored to anything. The water and wind certainly have had an adverse affect on our wood too.

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

      Firstly find a good strong anchoring point in the same direction as you want to pull. In our case it is usually another tree. What you see in the picture is the winch and the anchorage point (rope wrapped round tree). The metal cable then goes off to the right and is attached to the leaning tree (out of shot).
      After a year I would think the roots of your tree will be getting established in the new position, so it might be more difficult to pull it back upright. Worth a try, but you don’t want to be pulling against resistance or you might damage it further.

      • wherethejourneytakesme February 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm - Reply

        Thanks for that – I think it may be too late for this one unless we could try it bit by bit. It is one of my favourite trees too. It is very hard work having a wood – they look like they just take care of themselves but we now know differently! We have only had two down so far in this winters gales which is better than the 10 a couple of years ago – that was so much hard work to deal with. We are looking to do some serious replanting this year though we will never see them as fully mature trees.

        • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 6:27 pm - Reply

          But you will have the pleasure of seeing them grow, each year they will look better.

  34. Wendy February 23, 2014 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Well done to Mike! I hope too much damage hasn’t already been done to them and fingers crossed we’ve seen the end of the winter storms. It’s such a shame to see the trees coming down – we lost a hawthorn in the last one here, so we’ve got a sad gap now among our trees, too.

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 10:14 am - Reply

      It’s very sad when they fall, although I’ve been amazed by how resilient trees can be too, they’ve bent over to extraordinary angles. The weather forecast is showing a few more bright spells now, and the birds definitely think it’s Spring. Let’s hope.

  35. Laura February 24, 2014 at 4:54 am - Reply

    What a domino effect! I wouldn’t have thought anything could have been done for those trees…good job, blue rope or no!

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 10:20 am - Reply

      Thanks Laura. No-one was more surprised than me!

  36. Pats. February 24, 2014 at 7:53 am - Reply

    On the farm ‘elf and safety……..say na more! Timber!!!

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 10:16 am - Reply

      It may yet come to that, but if only the wind would drop they might have a chance at re-anchoring themselves. I hope!

  37. BadPenny February 24, 2014 at 8:15 am - Reply

    Great rescue job. That storm was massive wasn’t it ?

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 10:18 am - Reply

      The worst yet. Your village seemed to get the brunt of it. Let’s hope that’s it now, winter going out with a bang.

  38. Linda@arichtapestry February 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Hope the trees survive now that they’ve been firmly anchored in place and no more gales come your way to cause more damage in the woodland.

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm - Reply

      Looking at the long range weather forecast just now it does seem there may be a change on the way, maybe next week. And not before time! Thanks Linda.

  39. Sharon February 24, 2014 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    Hmmmm I wonder how long until the roots are strong enough to take down the blue rope? Very handy, your man.

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Years I should think, but the root ball went back snugly into the ground so I hope that will help. But the wind is getting up yet again this evening. And that is not what we need. I hope your snow is short lived!

  40. Sarah February 24, 2014 at 7:39 pm - Reply

    Those winds were so strong here on Valentines Day. I’m glad we were celebrating at home! The winch looks like a great idea, will the squirrels be using it too? Sarah x

    • Jessica February 24, 2014 at 11:40 pm - Reply

      Eek, doesn’t bear thinking about. The door to the shed with the bird food in it wouldn’t stand a chance.

  41. Natalie February 25, 2014 at 12:54 am - Reply

    Nice job!! I am always sad to see trees tip over. We lose some around our back pasture every year, as it’s very wet back there and a bad windstorm usually takes down a couple.

    • Jessica February 25, 2014 at 9:12 am - Reply

      I guess it’s part of the natural process of renewal, but it is sad. I’m not a great lover of conifers, but these form quite a nice clump down by the river, so it will be nice to save them if we can.

  42. Helene February 25, 2014 at 3:38 am - Reply

    The storm on the Valentine’s day was the worst one I had in my garden too, a few of those in December were bad, but not as bad as Valentine’s day. I actually didn’t go to be until around 5am, I didn’t dare, the wind howled and groaned so bad it was like some monster on TV. I suppose I couldn’t have done much if something had decided to blow off, but I still wanted to be awake to perhaps minimise damage if something did happen. I was lucky, had done all the preparations, everything was tied down and put away, no damage.

    What a great job with the tree, how long do you recon it will take for it to root back into the ground? Good luck, hope it works, the fact that the ground is so saturated with water should at least help the tree in the process.

    • Jessica February 25, 2014 at 9:21 am - Reply

      It is always boggy that bit, even in last year’s dry summer. Which I suppose is how the trees came to blow down in the first place. But they won’t go short of water while they recover. Perhaps in a year or two we will remove the rope temporarily and see how it goes. The trees are very tall though, at least 50 feet, an awful lot for the roots to hold up!
      I’m glad your garden came through unscathed, lets hope we’ve seen the last of it for this winter.

  43. Mark and Gaz February 25, 2014 at 11:26 am - Reply

    I do hope that works, if they can re-establish the root system themselves whilst held in place, then hopefully you will have many years ahead with them. We have been quite fortunate so far this winter and have had no damage to speak of. Albeit we had a loose tv aerial removed before it got the chance to do any damage.

    • Jessica February 25, 2014 at 12:59 pm - Reply

      Hi guys and welcome to rusty duck!
      I think we have been lucky too, there are people a lot worse off. I hope this doesn’t become the ‘normal’ pattern for our weather. But at least it has been mild. If the plants can survive the wet then perhaps I will have fewer losses overall.

  44. woolythymes February 25, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    kudos to Mike….what a handy guy you have around. Saving even a single tree is sooo worth it. in 2009 we had a history making ice storm that left our whole part of the world devastated. we lost 7 trees on our little spot of land at the time—another 3 died since. It’s awful. Our shady property is now sunny—all my plants fry every summer and we’ll never live long enough to enjoy the new trees we’ve planted. (whiney, whiney, whiney, I know…..but trees are soooo important!!!)

    • Jessica February 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      Your ice storms are awesome, so pretty, but oh so destructive. Even more so than wind?

  45. Anne Holt February 25, 2014 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    That all looks very similar to the woods that belong to our house in SW Cork. 80ft tree completely down when we were there in November and even more lost we understand the other week, falling into the old veg patch and not the house thank goodness. I think rather a lot of clearing up will be happening when we go in a couple of weeks

    • Jessica February 25, 2014 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Anne and welcome to rusty duck!
      Ireland must have taken as much of a battering as we have. The pics of your cottage on the blog look lovely, I hope there is not too much work for you to do.

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