So DW and I finally decided to put our struggling dogwood out of its'/our misery. It was in a bad spot directly under the power/phone/cable TV lines and less than half the branches leafed out this spring. We also discovered a few days ago that it was not planted by her father as we had thought, but actually planted just after his death. With the sentimental value eliminated, it was an easier decision to make.
Anyway, after trimming all the branches off and cutting the main trunk off, I set to the task of getting the stump out of the ground. This is what I ended up with:
It looks like my mother-in-law got the worst landscaper ever to plant this poor little tree. There were only 6-8 large roots extending out from the tree and maybe a couple dozen in the 1/2"-1" range. None of those went down into the ground more than 8"-10" and the entire tangled mass was sitting on a layer of hard packed rocky sand. You can see how badly the root ball is turned back onto itself. I can only imagine that whoever planted this tree simply dug a hole large enough to fit the root ball into, plopped it in the ground, covered it up and walked away. Oh, no, wait. They did take the time to drive 2 angle iron supports into the ground. I found the remnants of those with my shovel.
Object lesson for the day: Don't let an ignoramus plant your trees.
While it's a a shame you had to cut the tree down, the root system is wonderfully interesting to look at. One the last picture in the lower left hand corner, it looks like a person in the tree. I see the head, and then a body with an arm below it.
If I may suggest, these roots present as having developed a typical "ball bound" effect prior to being planted in the yard. This pattern (I do agree also that they are beautiful and make wonderful art and sculptural works) is also a very common effect found in tree roots I have worked with in 盆栽 Penjing, and 盆景 Bonsai both...some of which are several hundred years old. In the past, we have taken tree like this and "root pruned" them before transplanting to a better location. I hope you keep the roots or perhaps offer them to a local artist for inspiration. Thank you for sharing this story...
Agreeing with the previous two comments, I think that's a beautiful clump of wood. I hope you don't burn that! Call me an idiot if you want, but II would want to reproduce this! Especially if it wasn't very deep in the ground and easy to dig out. What's the secret?
I showed the pictures to my wife and she made comments similar to those above. There are a couple of woodworking groups nearby, one group of carvers and a group of wood-turners as well. I think I should look them up.