I took a pruning class at Bullington Gardens taught by John Murphy this week. It was a great class with lots of demonstrations on trees so that we could see what he was talking about. While one class does not an expert make, here are a few tips I learned in this class:
+ Japanese maples -- remove the branches heading towards the middle of the tree, or rubbing on another branch. Remove all dead branches.
+ Angled cut? Use an 'angled cut' for roses, but for tree branches use a 'straight cut.' The angled cut will crush the branch and the tree will need to expend energy to heal it.
+ Rhododendrons -- Do NOT prune them during the winter! They should be pruned immediately (within three weeks) after they stop blooming. Use a three year cycle and prune about 1/3 of the shrub each of those three years. Ever wonder about the branches that look 'dead'? If you prune a dead looking branch and it has 'root rot' (you can tell by the way the the inner part of the cut branch looks) be sure to wipe your pruning blades with alcohol before you cut another branch or you will transfer the root rot from one branch to another.
+ Painting after pruning -- this old practice of painting over the 'wound' of a pruned tree should NOT be done.
+ When pruning a branch you should not cut down to the trunk itself, but rather to the 'collar,' keeping the collar intact. [ Wikipedia provides a good explanation of a branch collar: A branch collar is the often visible swelling in a woody plant that forms at the base of a branch where it is attached to its parent branch or to the tree's trunk. The top of the branch collar consists of dense interlocking wood grain.] Collar on cherry tree shown below.
For those of us who are "smitten" with the beauty of tree bark, January and February are great months to visit a botanical garden! Above are just four of the delightful tree barks I saw today at Hatcher Garden in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
This garden, lovingly crafted by Harold and Josephine Hatcher, stands on neglected and eroded land that the Hatchers began rehabilitating in 1969. Today this little 'gem' of a garden (10 acres) is a non-profit with four paid employees and scores of unpaid volunteers. Admission to this woodland garden is free and handicap accessible. There is a meandering stream, a waterfall, several small bridges, lots of trees, understory and flowers. It is open every day from dawn until dusk.
Hatcher Garden is located at 820 John B. White Sr. Blvd., Spartanburg, SC. For more info see their website: www.hatchergarden.org
Edgeworthia chrysantha (Paper bush) flowers gave a sweet scent to the air (left) and hydrangeas (right) were budding out.
In January I attended a class at the North Carolina Arboretum on winter tree identification. We were given a wonderful little book called, "Winter Tree Finder" by May and Tom Watts, which I recommend if you want to identify trees in the winter. The teacher of the class, Marc Williams, has two websites: www.botanyeveryday.com and www.plantsandhealers.com and offers courses online.
I decided to ask a question I have long pondered: is there a 'bright line' between whether a plant is a shrub or a tree? And the short answer is 'yes.' Basically a single trunk is a tree and a shrub has multiple trunks. Based on this criteria, he said a crepe myrtle is a tree. The first picture below is of a witch hazel (shrub) and below that is a red bud, which is a good example of a single trunk tree.
w He said bark is NOT very helpful in distinguishing between types of trees because the look of a tree's bark changes over the lifetime of the tree.
I did learn that the number of needles in a 'bundle' coming out of a 'fascicle' (point where the needle bundle fastens to the tree branch) DOES make a big difference in identifying the type of pine tree it is. I had always thought the number of needles in a fascicle was rather random, not knowing that ALL the fascicles on a tree have the same number of needles attached.
The scars are also critical in tree identification. There are leaf scars, vein scars and bud scale scars. Good clues to a tree's identity can be obtained by noting whether the leaf scars are alternate to each other on a twig, or opposite to each other. It also matters whether the leaf scars are 'whorled' or not. Leaf scar shape matters as well; they can be heart-shaped, shield-shaped or C-shaped. TO be honest, I had never given the slightest thought to those 'marks' on the twigs of trees. Now that I know they contain important information I will pay them more heed.
I also learned that branches coming out of a trunk at a 90 degree angle are stronger than branches that come out at any other angle. Not that this helps with tree identification, but I thought it was interesting information nonetheless. See below for two examples of this.
Ruthie photographs trees because she loves them.
1 - 3pm
A Walk in the Woods
423 N. Main St.
Photographer and editor Ruthie Rosauer will be on hand to autograph copies of her book, THESE TREES. The book, a compilation of 140 trees photos paired with poems, has been described as "A gorgeous book, a heart-opening photo collection."