Speaking Tree February 23, 2011
One of my New Year's resolutions is to learn a new language. I work with several arborists fluent in Spanish, and they've inspired me. I've purchased audio aids, manuals, and am even enrolled in a Spanish class at a local community college. Well, it turns out that this is much harder than the commercials make it sound.
As I was absorbing Spanish on my way into work yesterday, it occurred to me that our trees communicate through their own language. They have something to tell us, but we have to be able to understand them. This is one language I am comfortable speaking, so when my landscape wakes from its winter slumber, I'll be ready to listen. Here are a few pointers from my experience as a landscape interpreter:
First, listen for obvious cries for help. Are there any dead or dying limbs, branches that may have broken or split during the harsh winter? If so, prune out the dead tissue to support healthy growth and prevent injury to anyone who might be passing under the tree. Be on the lookout for damage from animals feeding on buds, bark below the snow line, twigs, and small branches. Even if you're new to "speaking tree," trust your instincts here; if something looks wrong, you may have a problem.Read More
So You Want to be an Arborist? February 14, 2011
"Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical." - Yogi Berra
Math challenges aside, there are days like today when the mental heavy lifting involved makes me think the same could be said about arboriculture.
I'm currently studying for an exam at one of the oldest, though relatively obscure, training institutions in North America. It's The Davey Institute of Tree Sciences, better known as DITS. The brochure might describe a century-plus, industry-leading training program focused on practical arboriculture research and scientific advancements in tree physiology, entomology, and pathology, but I think of it more as training on steroids - a two-year degree packed into four intense weeks. It's challenging, but there's great energy here, and the hallways are buzzing with talented instructor/scientists and eager arborists.Read More
Trees Got Your Back February 9, 2011
I have to admit that sometimes in the dead of winter on cold, cold days, I get a bit claustrophobic. I feel cramped. Inside, it feels dark. It's almost like I can't breathe.
So I put on my thickest coat over some layers and step outside. The first few moments are pretty cold - I curl in on myself, nearly tempted to run back inside to the waiting warmth. But, usually once I start walking, my blood starts flowing and I start to warm up a bit. So I keep going.Read More
Why Trees Don't Wear Sweaters January 25, 2011
No matter what area of the country you were in the past month, you experienced some extreme cold weather - even in areas that usually have fairly moderate temperatures. From Atlanta to Texas, it was cold!
At least we have the option of bundling up with scarves, mittens, hats and coats, and we can even warm up with a nice toasty cup of hot chocolate once back indoors. Alas, our tree friends aren't so lucky.
They can't bundle up or come in from the cold. They have to stand strong and endure the long winter. Maybe that's one of the reasons the mighty oak is so, well, mighty. He tolerates attacks from desiccating winds, snow and ice. Sure, all may be calm below ground, where tree roots can be kept insulated under snow and soil; but the picture changes as you climb. Imagine standing still and anxiously watching the ice dangle off your arms and fingers until it melted - Brrr!Read More