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What tree is this?

What tree is this?I just went and counted all the trees on the property – there are 33! 33 trees on a small to medium sized property … no wonder there is so much shade! It’s a medium sized property (depending on your perspective of course, to me its medium at 800 m²). Considering the house is of fair size, that’s really not a lot of space for 33 trees! But if I’m being completely honest about this, it was all the trees that first attracted me to this house. I love trees. The older, the better. To me, trees are like antiques. Valuable and irreplaceable. Sure you can go to any nursery and buy a tree and plant it. But to have or inherit a tree that has lived and grown for years, has seen generations before you live below it … well that’s priceless and valuable.

And I do love shade too. I love my old Willow tree. I love my Cherry Blossom and the old Pepper Tree in the back. And I love the American Sweetgum … and I hope that by the end of March I’ll be able to rattle off the names of all 33 trees :). For today, that’s all I know for sure. I know that there is a Coprosma (but I don’t know which one it is) and I know one of the newer trees is a Rhus (but I don’t know which type of Rhus it is – there are a few “types”), so there is much to find out and learn about my little forest! What I do know is that they are all different (except for 2 x Hibiscus, which are actually shrubs but they are so old and huge that I allow myself to call them trees) and two others are the “same tree” in the back garden, one in full view and one hidden around a corner.

For todays “daily photo” I photographed this tree. I chose this one because I thought it is quite distinctive and it should be easy for me to identify it from my books … but no luck. I’ve been through all my books and looked around the Internet and I’m still none the wiser. If anybody happens to read this that knows what type of tree this is, please let me know. I need all the “tree-identification” help I can get.


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A closer view

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Happy gardening

By Christine

Dominated by large trees on a medium sized property, my garden is very shaded. With no “full sun” areas I have to plant shade and partial shade loving plants. I love shrubs and flowers including camellias and azaleas but Roses and Irises are my favourite and getting these to thrive is a challenge …

19 replies on “What tree is this?”

Careful of the Pepper Tree…..they are now cat 3 and very invasive……Respiratory problems may occur when the plant is in bloom including dogs, horses and other animals

Schinus Terebinthifolius Brazilian Pepper Tree
Schinus molle
Family: Anacardiaceae (an-a-kard-ee-AY-see-ee) which includes poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac , Anacardiaceae from the cashew family
Genus: Schinus (SKY-nus) (Info)
Species: Terebinthifolius (ter-ee-binth-ee-FOH-lee-us) molle, aroeira
Synonyms: Schinus angustifolius, S. areira, S. bituminosus, S. huigan, S. occidentalis, S. antiarthriticus, S. mellisii, Sarcotheca bahiensis
Common Names: Brazilian Pepper, Florida Holly, Rose Pepper, and Christmasberry, Peruvian peppertree, California peppertree, aroeira, aroeira salsa, escobilla, Peruvian mastic tree, mastic-tree, aguaribay, American pepper, anacahuita, castilla, false pepper, gualeguay, Jesuit’s balsam, molle del Peru, mulli, pepper tree, pimentero, pimientillo, pirul

Category: Trees
Height: 9-12 m
Spacing: 3.6-4.7 m
Sun Exposure: Full Sun
Danger: Handling the plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. Exsposue to the sap on bare skin causes allergic dermatitis. Respiratory problems may occur when the plant is in bloom including dogs, horses and other animals. Fuit and leaves are poisonous to poultry, pigs and calves. Ingestation of the berries causes vomiting and diarrhea. Birds do not seem to be effected.
Bloom Color: White/Near White
Bloom Time: Mid Fall
Foliage: Evergreen
Other details: Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping. May be a noxious weed or invasive, This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral) 7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
Propagation Methods: From herbaceous stem cuttings, From woody stem cuttings, Seed Collecting: Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Part Two

Uses:Lawn specimen, parks, streets, plazas. This evergreen with its soft foliage, drooping branches, twisted bark and decorative fruit adds a lot of character to any garden. It is valued for the shade it creates and has been extensively used in the Karoo along the main roads, where few other species will survive both the drought conditions and the cold winters. It tolerates hot dry climates and urban pollution. The bark, leaves and berries are aromatic when crushed and used as an insect repellent.

Flowering:Flowers are small, white and borne profusely in panicles at the ends of the drooping branches. It produces hard, pinkish-red, berries in summer, hanging loosely in dense clusters of hundreds of berries that can be present year-round. These bright pink fruits are often sold as “pink peppercorns”, although S. molle is not related to the true pepper.

Special Features: Schinus molle is an evergreen tree that grows to 15 meters tall and 5-10 meters wide. It is the largest of all Schinus species and potentially the longest lived. The rough grayish bark is attractively twisted and becomes gnarled with age. The upper branches of the tree tend to droop, with fresh green, feather-like leaves made up of 19-41 fine leaflets that appear quite delicate.

Believe it or not this tree is also a problem in our part of the world too (Southern Africa). It has been declared ,a category 1 weed in at least one province and category 3 in others. I have a few on my property and I’m convinced my one horse has developed respiratory problems as a result.

Lots of Brazilian Peppertrees grow in my area in South Florida. They are very salt tolerant and wind and storm tolerant, and they repropagate quickly even after herbicide has been applied to kill them or if they have been cut down at the trunk but the roots have’nt been removed. They can withstand mild freezes up to zone 8 and survive in all zones further south. They are widespread in South America (where native) in its rainforests, mainly east of the Andes Mountains, their western range limit. They provide little use for wildlife where I live and seed collecting is not recommended as they are very invasive and obtaining specimens is illegal without a special permit and/or guideline. However, they are useful in southern California for shade trees and are not very invasive there. They are very annoying here and removal can be difficult. It is listed by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council as a Category One Invasive. This plant also is found in Texas, California, Hawaii, the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

I had this one growing on the lot line for 10 years.I loved the color and privacy it gave me.Had to cut it back twice a year or as needed,but didn’t mind.I used the berries in many dishes, if you buy them, they are very expensive. My dog developed allergies to this tree and then grass, but I never had any problem myself.

I feel rather timid adding a positive comment about Schinus terebinthifolius after all the negative ones! Here in Rabat, Morocco, it was used as a street tree quite a lot, mainly during the French colonisation. The trees are dense and green giving good shade in this hot climate, resisting the sea air, and resisting heavy pruning to keep them clear of overhead power lines etc. It also survives the neglect of low budget maintenance programmes for street trees!

It has to be said also, that forty some years on, many of these trees are now having to be replaced (by other species for the most part) because of hollow trunks and the fact that many are just falling over in strong winds.

I’m not usually negative about many plants, but this is definitely one of them. It has become a pest in some areas of the Big Island where the birds scatter the seeds far and wide…One enterprising business has been using branches of it cut into thick pieces about 8 inches long and make colored pencils by filling with a color insert…good tourist novelty for the kids…Problem is, not enough people cutting it down and when they do, if care is not taken, the seeds will scattered some more!

I learned the hard way about exposure to sap/leaves on bare skin. Over 2 months ago after cutting back many branches I had a reaction on my arms and neck similar to a mild poison ivy that lasted 7-10 days. But my palms even today are sore, dry, cracked and peeling almost as if they had been burned and moisturizers and medicated creams have no effect other than temporary relief.

This tree is granted very pretty and colorful. It also is of a predatory nature and is crowding out many native species here on the Texas gulf coast.

My daughter is becoming more and more sensitized to it and is having severe allergic reactions from being close to it. Any nearness or actual contact brings on facial swelling, itching and rash, and now beginning to have respiratory symptoms with it.

This plant will overgrow all of your other plants, suck all the nutrients out of your soil, and serve no valuable purpose. It is very agressive in that it will quickly overgrow any native vegetation, and is a pox in general.

Brazilian Pepper is a sprawling shrub or small tree, reaching a height of 7–10 m. The branches can be upright, reclining, or nearly vine-like, all on the same plant. Its plastic morphology allows it to thrive in all kinds of ecosystems: from dunes to swamps, where it grows as a quasi-aquatic plant. The leaves are alternate, 10–22 cm long, pinnately compound with (3-) 5-15 leaflets; the leaflets are roughly oval (lanceolate to elliptical), 3–6 cm long and 2-3.5 cm broad, and have finely toothed margins, an acute to rounded apex and yellowish veins. The leaf rachis between the leaflets is usually (but not invariably) slightly winged. The plant is dioeceous, with small white flowers borne profusely in axillary clusters. The fruit is a small red spherical drupe 4–5 mm diameter, carried in dense clusters of hundreds of berries.

There are two varieties:
Schinus terebinthifolius var. acutifolius. Leaves to 22 cm, with 7-15 leaflets; fruit pink.
Schinus terebinthifolius var. terebinthifolius. Leaves to 17 cm, with 5-13 leaflets; fruit red.
Like many other species in the family Anacardiaceae, Brazilian Pepper has an aromatic sap that can cause skin reactions (similar to poison ivy burns) in some sensitive people – although the reaction is usually weaker than that induced by touch of the close related Lithraea molleoides, known as Brazil as “wild” aroeira (aroeira brava). Conversely, Schinus terebinthifolius is commonly known as “tame” aroeira (aroeira mansa).

Cultivation and uses
Brazilian pepper is widely grown as an ornamental plant in frost-free regions of South America for its foliage and fruit. It is considered as a melliferous flower.

Although it is not a true pepper (Piper), its dried drupes are often sold as pink peppercorns. The seeds can be used as a spice, adding a pepper-like taste to food. They are usually sold in a dry state and have a bright pink color. They are less often sold pickled in brine, where they have a dull, almost green hue.

In the United States, it has been introduced in California, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana and Florida. Planted originally as an ornamental outside of its native range, Brazilian pepper has become widespread and is considered an invasive species in many subtropical regions with moderate to high rainfall, including parts or all of Australia, the Bahamas, Bermuda, southern China, Cuba, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Malta, the Marshall Islands, Mauritius, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Puerto Rico, Réunion, South Africa, and the United States. In drier areas, such as Israel and southern California, it is also grown but has not generally proved invasive.

Brazilian Pepper is hard to control because it produces basal shoots if the trunk is cut. Trees also produce abundant seeds that are dispersed by birds and ants. It is this same hardiness that makes the tree highly useful for reforestation in its native environment but which enables it to become invasive outside of its natural range.

“Florida Holly” was introduced to Florida by at latest 1891, probably earlier (Gogue et al. 1974), where it has spread rapidly, replacing native plants, like mangroves, with thousands of acres occupied. It is especially suited to colonizing disturbed sites and can grow in both wet and dry conditions. Its growth habit allows it to climb over understory trees and invade mature canopies, forming thickets that choke out most other plants.

Legal status
The species (including the seed) is legally prohibited from sale, transport, or planting in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Noxious Weed List (F.A.C. 5B-57.007). It is classified as a Category I pest by The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FL EPPC). To keep the plant from spreading into native plant communities and displacing them, local regulations and environmental guidelines require eradication of Brazilian Pepper wherever possible. Currently, the State of Florida is working hard to eradicate the species from its lands and has had some success in doing so

Two herbicides are approved for use in the United States to exterminate Brazilian Pepper: Triclopyr, using the basil-bark method; and Glyphosate. Picloram can be used if the stump has been freshly cut, but this is not the preferred or most effective means of eradication.


Parts Used: Fruit, bark, leaf

All parts of the tree have high oil and essential oil contents that produce a spicy, aromatic scent. The leaves of the Brazilian peppertree have such high oil content that leaf pieces jerk and twist when placed in hot water as the oil is released. The berries, which have a peppery flavor, are used in syrups, vinegar, and beverages in Peru; are added to Chilean wines; and are dried and ground up for a pepper substitute in the tropics. The dried berries have also been used as an adulterant of black pepper in some countries.


Virtually all parts of this tropical tree, including its leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, resin, and oleoresin (or balsam) have been used medicinally by indigenous peoples throughout the tropics. The plant has a very long history of use and appears in ancient religious artifacts and on idols among some of the ancient Chilean Amerindians.

Throughout South and Central America, Brazilian peppertree is reported to be an astringent, antibacterial, diuretic, digestive stimulant, tonic, antiviral, and wound healer. In Peru, the sap is used as a mild laxative and a diuretic, and the entire plant is used externally for fractures and as a topical antiseptic. The oleoresin is used externally as a wound healer, to stop bleeding, and for toothaches, and it is taken internally for rheumatism and as a purgative. In South Africa, a leaf tea is used to treat colds, and a leaf decoction is inhaled for colds, hypertension, depression, and irregular heart beat. In the Brazilian Amazon, a bark tea is used as a laxative, and a bark-and-leaf tea is used as a stimulant and antidepressant. In Argentina, a decoction is made with the dried leaves and is taken for menstrual disorders and is also used for respiratory and urinary tract infections and disorders.

Brazilian peppertree is still employed in herbal medicine today in many countries. It is used for many conditions in the tropics, including menstrual disorders, bronchitis, gingivitis, gonorrhea, gout, eye infections, rheumatism, sores, swellings, tuberculosis, ulcers, urethritis, urogenital disorders, venereal diseases, warts, and wounds. In Brazilian herbal medicine today, the dried bark and/or leaves are employed for heart problems (hypertension and irregular heart beat), infections of all sorts, menstrual disorders with excessive bleeding, tumors, and general inflammation. A liquid extract or tincture prepared with the bark is used internally as a stimulant, tonic, and astringent, and externally for rheumatism, gout, and syphilis.


Phytochemical analysis of Brazilian peppertree reveals that the plant contains tannins, alkaloids, flavonoids, steroidal saponins, sterols, terpenes, and a large amount of essential oil. The essential oil present in the leaves, bark, and fruit is a rich source of chemicals (over 50 constituents identified thus far, including biologically active triterpenes and sesquiterpenes). Some of these chemicals scientists have not seen before, and many of the plant’s documented biological activities are attributed to its essential oil. The fruit can contain up to 5% essential oil, and the leaves can contain up to 2% essential oil.

The list of chemicals found in the Brazilian peppertree is long: amyrin, behenic acid, bergamont, bicyclogermacrene, bourbonene, cadinene, cadinol, calacorene, calamenediol, calamenene, camphene, car-3-ene, carvacrol, caryophyllene, cerotic acid, copaene, croweacin, cubebene, cyanidins, cymene, elemene, elemol, elemonic acid, eudesmol, fisetin, gallic acid, geraniol butyrate, germacrene, germacrone, guaiene, gurjunene, heptacosanoic acid, humulene, laccase, lanosta, limonene, linalool, linoleic acid, malvalic acid, masticadienoic acid, masticadienonalic acid, masticadienonic acid, muurolene, muurolol, myrcene, nerol hexanoate, octacosanoic acid, oleic acid, paeonidin, palmitic acid, pentacosanoic acid, phellandrene, phellandrene, phenol, pinene, piperine, piperitol, protocatechuic acid, quercetin, quercitrin, raffinose, sabinene, sitosterol, spathulene, terpinene, terpineol, terpinolene, and tricosanoic acid.


In laboratory tests, the essential oil (as well as leaf and bark extracts) has demonstrated potent antimicrobial properties. Brazilian peppertree has displayed good-to-very strong in vitro antifungal actions against numerous fungi, as well as Candida. One research group indicated that the antifungal action of the essential oil was more effective than the antifungal drug Multifungin®. The essential oil and leaves have clinically demonstrated in vitro antibacterial activity against numerous bacterial strains (which probably explains why it is an herbal remedy for so many infectious conditions in its native countries). In 1996, a U.S. patent was awarded for an essential oil preparation of Brazilian peppertree as a topical bactericidal medicine used against Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus for humans and animals, and as an ear, nose, and/or throat preparation against bacteria. Another patent was awarded in 1997 for a similar preparation used as a topical antibacterial wound cleanser. In much earlier in vitro tests, a leaf extract of Brazilian peppertree demonstrated antiviral actions against several plant viruses. In addition to these documented antimicrobial properties, Brazilian peppertree passed an anticancer plant screening program in 1976 by demonstrating antitumorous actions. More recently, in 2002, researchers in Argentina documented that it was toxic in vitro against a human liver cancer cell line.

Over the years, several research groups have conducted animal studies on Brazilian peppertree that have further substantiated some of its many traditional uses in herbal medicine. A fruit extract and a leaf extract were shown to lower blood pressure in dogs and rats, as well as to stimulate uterine activity in guinea pigs and rabbits. Leaf extracts have clinically demonstrated pain-relieving activity in mice and antispasmodic properties in rats and guinea pigs (including uterine antispasmodic actions). In 1974, the anti-inflammatory effect of Brazilian peppertree was documented; the herb was used to treat 100 patients with chronic cervicitis and vaginitis effectively. In 1995 and 1996, other researchers documented the anti-inflammatory properties of this herb once again.


A monograph published in 1976 on Brazilian peppertree’s essential oil indicated no toxicity in animals and humans ingesting or applying the essential oil topically. Today, herbalists and natural health practitioners in both North and South America use Brazilian peppertree mostly for colds, flu, and other upper respiratory infections; as a remedy for hypertension and for irregular heartbeat; for fungal infections and Candida; and as a female balancing herb for numerous menstrual disorders, including menstrual cramps and excessive bleeding.

Traditional Preparation: The leaves are best prepared as an infusion, and the bark is best prepared as a decoction or an alcohol tincture. Generally, 1/2 cup of a bark decoction twice daily is used for colds, flu, sore throats and other upper respiratory infections; 2-3 ml of a 4:1 tincture taken two or three times daily can be substituted, if desired. This traditional remedy is also used as a heart tonic and for irregular heartbeat. A leaf decoction twice daily or as needed is generally used for menstrual disorders. See Traditional Herbal Remedies Preparation Methods page if necessary for definitions.

Contraindications: This plant was shown to stimulate the uterus in animal studies and therefore should not be used in pregnancy.

Drug Interactions: None reported. However, this plant has exhibited hypotensive actions in animal studies; in light of such, it is conceivable that the use of this plant may potentiate high blood pressure medications.


Argentina for diarrhea, menstrual disorders, respiratory tract infections, inflammation, urinary tract infections, wounds
Brazil for bronchitis, constipation, cough, cystitis, depression, diarrhea, eye diseases, fever, flu, gonorrhea, heart problems, hemorrhage, inflammation, menstrual disorders, respiratory tract infections, rheumatism, spasms, tumors, urethritis, urinary tract disorders, and as a astringent, stimulant, and tonic
Colombia for diarrhea, lung diseases, rheumatism
Mexico for asthma, bronchitis, cataract, colic, conjunctivitis, constipation, cough, digestive disorders, flu, foot fungus, gonorrhea, gum, mouth sores, rheumatism, sores (skin), stomachache, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, ulcers, urogenital diseases, venereal disease, warts, wounds, and as an astringent
Paraguay for gonorrhea, menstrual disorders, sores, urethritis, urinary insufficiency, wounds
Peru for constipation, fevers, fractures, rheumatism, toothache, tumors, urinary insufficiency, warts, wounds, and as an antiseptic
South Africa for arrhythmia, colds, cough, depression, gout, hypertension, inflammation, pain, rheumatism
Turkey for constipation, coughs, excessive mucous, gonorrhea, urinary insufficiency, and as a digestive stimulant, and tonic
Uruguay for menstrual disorders, rheumatism, wounds, and as an antiseptic
Elsewhere for bronchitis, constipation, coughs, excessive mucous, edema, eye diseases, gingivitis, gout, hypertension, menstrual disorders, rheumatism, sores, swelling, urinary insufficiency, urogenital inflammation, venereal disease, viruses, and to stimulate digestion
Main Preparation Method: tincture
Main Actions (in order):
antibacterial, anticandidal, antifungal, antihemorrhagic (reduces bleeding), cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart)

Main Uses:

as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and antiseptic against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections
for Candida and yeast infections
to tone, balance, and strengthen heart function and as a heart regulator for arrhythmia and mild hypertension
to stop bleeding and heal wounds internally and externally
for Mycoplasmal infections
Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
analgesic (pain-reliever), anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anticancerous, anticandidal, antifungal, antispasmodic, antitumorous, antiviral, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), wound healer
Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
antidepressant, antihemorrhagic (reduces bleeding), antiseptic, aperient (mild laxative), astringent, cardiotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the heart), digestive stimulant, diuretic, menstrual stimulant, stimulant, tonic

Cautions: It has as a mild hypotensive effect (lowers blood pressure).

It’s definitely a box elder (Acer negundo). We have a variegated one = stunning! 🙂

I wouldn’t remove it 😮 unless it’s already being a problem. As far as I know it’s not invasive in SA. If there aren’t thousands of its babies popping up in your garden yet… it will probably not be a problem?

At least it looses its leaves in winter, so allows more sun for your veggies in Winter AND you can use the leaves for your mulch. Just give it a good trim and don’t forget to save the branches for your compost pile!


Oh no, I would never remove it – I’m not a fan of removing trees, I love them. We just have to keep it controlled. And yes it throws its seed down and we are constantly weeding, but thats a small price to pay for having wonderful trees, isn’t it? This part of the garden has been planted with lots of shade loving plants (clivia, aggies, (plectranthus madacascariens is the ground cover), camellias, azaleas, ribbon bush etc. … so it all works well together.

I’m not very good with compost … I still need to start my own compost heap. All tgis gardening is very new to me and I’m learning every day. One of these days I’ll start a compost heap …

Oh, thank goodness! When u said tree feller I though… O.o

You MUST compost!! It’s dead easy – just get yourself a plastic compost bin (Stodels stock them, but you should find it anywhere) + chuck some sticks in the bottom, garden waste, kitchen waste compost activator and u’r ready to just top it up with some kitchen and garden waste as you go along. Wood ash (from the braai) is perfect, Horse manure is even more perfect. Water it every now and then and just top it up whenever you have more to dispose of. You can lift the bin, turn it and pile it all back inside every 2nd month if u like to speed the process up… or not.

Once you start it’s addictive… next thing u know u’ll be chopping up veggies for your earthworms etc 😉 I just started a second home-made worm bin. The soil they produce is absolutely awesome!!


Do it! Worms are Awesome! 🙂 U won’t believe me, but I can hear mine singing when I come to feed them 😉 No really! If you listen closely you can hear their mouths or bodies moving… it sounds more like little hands clapping – but of coarse they don’t have any 😀

Happy worming!

PS – Thanx so much for taking the time to look at my blog! Much appreciated! 🙂

I agree with Christine, Acer negudo it is. We have it around in my town. Careful! Almost every seed germinates. So the tree makes an invasion of seedlings in the garden.

I’m pretty sure this is an American Boxelder (Acer Negundo), also known as an Ash Leaf Maple. (well I’m 90% sure), but will have to wait until an expert happens upon this post or wait for Richard to come in March … whichever happens first 🙂

I remember having a tree like that in our backyard when we were kids in America. I remember it as a type of Maple. Let’s see if we can get some expert advise! I am now curious!

Hehe, just read this “Widely planted as a fast-growing shade tree. Box elder is very invasive”. It grows sooo quickly, the branches are threatening to grow into my bedroom windows – hence the need for the “tree feller” guy to come. Soon!

Well, I’ve been trawling websites and I think I might have an idea … it could be a Boxelder (Acer Negundo). Not forgetting that I am a total novice and don’t really know what I am doing, but this looks a lot like my tree. Or no? Also seems to be called Ash Leaf Maple.

I recognise the tree but unfortunately I don’t know the name of it. Its lovely – I like the lighter foliage. They are fast growers if I’m thinking of the same tree.

I love the atmosphere that trees give to a garden, with the cool shade and lovely dappled shadows. The trees are what attracted me to my house, too, but I don’t have as many as you. Like you, the older, larger ones are some of my favourites.

Hi Lizzie – it is very pretty – I love this tree! I’m hoping someone will tell us what this is before my “tree guy” comes in March (can you believe he is booked up until 15 March thats the earliest he can come and help me?).

PS: Just visitted you blog – I love it!

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