Under Our Umbrella May 9, 2011
Just the other day, I was attending a professional dinner meeting, so I traded my usual work clothes and boots for a simple dress and heels. And just as I arrived at the restaurant, it started to rain … and I don't mean just pitter-patter, pitter-patter. It was the start of what was soon to be a great, big thunderstorm. I stepped out of my car and prepared to run for it, and, wouldn't you know, my first step was into a giant puddle. Needless to say, I was squishing around in my heels with soggy toes for the rest of the night.
The latest wet weather has left many wringing out their wet socks in search of higher and drier land. It's not a good feeling to be constantly wet - so wet you feel you'll never get dry. If you're in one of these regions with above average rainfall right now, you know this feeling. Now imagine how your trees must feel.
Constant rain, storms and flood watches have us all protecting our socks with good shoes, strategically avoiding puddles and cleaning our gutters so our homes and toes stay dry. But what about our plants and trees? Those poor perennials and conifers, particularly those placed in low areas, are left to tough it out, stuck in the muck. Driving through my neighborhood, I've seen more than one tree surrounded by a large puddle of water that looks like it's not draining anytime soon.Read More
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
This Bud's For You April 8, 2010
In spring, most people are overeager to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. So many changes are happening around them as the landscape comes back to life. And it's quite intoxicating.
People smile more freely. There is a definite and extra bounce to everyone's step. All too quickly, they break out the shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and sunglasses. They talk at length about their first chance to fire up the grill and their initial family meal outdoors. My neighbors even race to see who can be the first to mow their lawn. It's quite refreshing … and addictive.
But the changes are happening so quickly that few stop and just observe long enough to catch the tiniest and most subtle transformations.Read More
Assessing the Situation April 1, 2010
This is that time of year when the first hints of sunlight and slightly warmer weather make me want to get outside and get busy in my garden. In other words, I get the gardening bug. And as the days get longer I watch the plants emerge from the sleeping soil and am dying to get my hands dirty.
So this morning before heading to work, I took a walk around my yard to assess what affect winter had on my landscape. My arborvitaes were nice and green - ready to offer me privacy once more on my backyard patio. My blue spruces were also standing strong - seemingly unaffected from all the heavy snow their branches supported this winter. (What a beautiful scene they created out of my dining room bay window covered in the cold white stuff around the holidays!) My two English oaks, which are in my front tree lawn and are known for being relatively tolerant of the salt spray from cars and trucks, seem strong and sturdy, ready to flower and bud. And my Crimson King maples also look eager for spring - I'm looking forward to seeing their burgundy leaves emerge once again, creating a nice contrast to the lime and jade tones of the rest of my trees.
Then, I turned toward the front of my house. I have two juniper skyrockets flanking my front door. And the first thing I noticed was that the normally parallel frosty blue spikes weren't in order. The right tree stood tall, but the left was bent slightly inward toward my front door - usually not a good sign for a tree.Read More