Photos from top left: Dogwood, Japanese spurge, Koko wood, ???, Red Horse Chestnut and far bottom right Tulip Poplar. All photos taken at South Carolina Botanical Garden at Clemson University in South Caroilna.
Notice the ??? for the beautiful 'twinned' pine tree? It is ??? because it was not labelled. It was particularly galling to me not to have a tree identification for this specific tree because it DID have a plaque at its base, a METAL plaque, a rather expensive looking plaque commemorating Frederick Thone and including a portrait of the man. But nary a scrap of information as to the identity of the tree!
I don't expect recreation parks to have identification tags on their trees. But when a site holds itself out as a botanical garden and/or arboretum and a tree this splendid and this close to the paved road goes unidentified it really irks me. Yes, I did ask a staff person about the tree, showed him the photo on my iPhone. He was able to confirm that the tulip poplar was indeed a tulip poplar -- but didn't know anything about this pine.
Tree identification is NO picnic in general. When I was making my book, These Trees, I sat down with a forester and a botanist and they book just shook their heads over most of the photos I had and were unable to identify them. Apparently bark is an unreliable clue to tree identity. This is why I strive so diligently to find identification markers for trees where I am taking their picture. Because I am just fooling myself if I think I will be able to do it later at home.
I want to take a moment here to commend Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden near Charlotte, NC for their tree identification. Not that they have every tree identified with a tag. But because they have business cards made up including an email address that you can send a photo to for help in tree identification. I sent them three photos last month and they identified all three. Thank you!!! I wish all botanical gardens offered this service!!!
The calendar said it on March 21. The vernal equinox said it on the 20th. But the weather kept saying, "not yet!" Finally, here in North Carolina, the weather is also saying "Spring is here!" I took these photographs last week at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, NC. (upper left is a Japanese flowering apricot, upper right is a dwarf peach, bottom left is Prunus persica, and bottom right is a yellow azalea.
It is still way too early to think about planting flowers. But not too early to take Anne Lamott's resolution and make it my own, "I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen."
I hope you will get a chance to do that too.
The phrase "made in the shade" implies that someone has accomplished something without much effort and can sit back and enjoy him or herself "in the shade." For those of you with your tape measures and graph paper, plotting out plans for your landscape I would suggest that you plan to include some shade in your landscape, rather than give it all over to sun-loving flowers and shrubs.
Some of us need no convincing to plant and/or preserve the trees already on our property. They please the eye and calm the spirit. But for those who might need a little persuading to landscape around their trees, rather than removing them, there are some tangible benefits of shade trees that have actually been quantified. These include: (1) lower utility bills because properly placed shade trees can cool houses by 20 – 45 degrees during peak temperature periods. This translates into reduced air conditioning costs, (2) cleaner air because trees absorb carbon dioxide and other air pollution; the U.S. Forest Service estimated trees removed 26,000 tons of air pollution in one year in the Greater Kansas City area and, possibly, (3) a decrease in crime. A 12% decrease was found in an area with increased tree canopy in a study done by the University of Vermont. (4) It is also quite likely that an increase in trees in a neighborhood will improve home values. In Portland, Oregon homes on streets with lots of trees sold for $7,130 more than other similar houses without similar shade cover.
So please think about SHADE when you are dreaming about beautifying your yard. As Jane Austen wrote, “To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdue is the most perfect refreshment.”
And if you have a yard without any shade trees, and your climate and soil can sustain them, I suggest planting some. Then you, too, can have it "made in the shade" on a hot summer day.
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.
We have been having unusually cold weather here in Western North Carolina this winter. When it is snow it looks so pretty! But our snow is long gone and what we have instead is ICE. The words that keep running through my head this week are those penned by Christina Rosetti and first published in 1872. Her poem, set to music by Gustav Holst in 1906, is the Christmas carol we know as "In the Bleak Midwinter."
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."