Fig Tree Deaths in the Northeast: Winter 2003-2004

Dear Readers,
I'm curious to know if anyone else has experienced the death of their fig tree this past winter in the US northeast. I live in New York City. Although mine and every other tree I know of in my neighborhood is regularly winterized, my tree died. My neighbor's died. Both trees of a friend who lives 2 blocks away died. I've also heard of unusual tree deaths from 2 other friends in Long Island.
Any similar stories out there?
-Anthony M. Falcone
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My son lives in cobblehill brooklyn on warren street. 3 or 4 houses toward smith street (between two 3 story buildings) there are (were) two massive 20 foot fig trees which have, to my knowledge, never been winterized. This past winter (the coldest in the past 50 years) both trees died. Neither shows any signs of leafing out. I live in Englewood NJ where the winter temps. Average 3 degrees colder than brooklyn. Last winter I wrapped my 8 foot tall brown turkey fig tree in burlap. Then I wrapped a strand of out door christmas tree lights around the burlap (large clear glass incandescent bulbs). I made a 10 foot cylinder of plastic snow fence around the tree and filled the cylinder with leaves and salt hay. Then I wrapped the entire cylinder with tar paper (sides and top). When temperatures were predicted to fall below 15 degrees, I turned on the lights..being careful to turn them off when the temperature went above 15 degrees! I probably used the lights no more than 10 times during the winter. Only once did I have to use the lights for longer than 48 hours. My tree consists of five main 8 foot tall stems. Two of the five survived up to and including the terminal buds. These leafed out in early May. The remaining stems were killed down by three to four feet (killing the terminal buds). The lower four feet of these stems have now leafed out (late may to early june). I dont know whether these were killed by cold or by getting too hot from the lights. Next winter Im thinking about using fiberglass insulation instead of salt hay. Im also going to spray the branches with an anti-desiccant before I wrap the branches with burlap. Im wondering whether I could rig up some kind of thermostat so that the temperature inside the enclosure could be controlled automatically.
d. mills snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net
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