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Category Archives: Trees

Ginkgo Tree Survival After a Hot Summer

Ginkgo Tree Planted in Spring 2015 and Ginkgo Tree Close-Up of Leaves 2016

Thank you, Eric Larner, Master Gardener and Citizen Forester

Video and Pictures by Starla Willis

 

 

I would love to read this book, Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot.

Written by Peter Crane and said to be quite inspiring.  If anyone has read it, please leave a comment. Here’s the review:

Perhaps the world’s most distinctive tree, ginkgo has remained stubbornly unchanged for more than two hundred million years. A living link to the age of dinosaurs, it survived the great ice ages as a relic in China, but it earned its reprieve when people first found it useful about a thousand years ago. Today ginkgo is beloved for the elegance of its leaves, prized for its edible nuts, and revered for its longevity. This engaging book tells the rich and engaging story of a tree that people saved from extinction—a story that offers hope for other botanical biographies that are still being written.

And to think, we have a specimen doing it’s best to survive in our garden!

Ann Lamb

If you need help watching this video, click here.

Pick a new landscape tree.

The Big Tree

The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park

The Big Tree at Goose Island State Park

I visited The Big Tree this week at Goose Island State Park during my trip to the Rockport area for the Hummer Celebration.  The Big Tree is a live oak over 1,000 years old and was  named the Champion Live Oak Tree of Texas in 1969.

The “Big Tree” statistics:

  • Trunk circumference:  35 feet 1.75 inches or 10.71 meters
  • Average trunk diameter:  11 feet 2.25 inches or 3.41 meters
  • Crown spread:  89 feet or 27.1 meters
  • Height:  44 feet or 13.4 meters
  • Age:  In excess of 1,000 years

There are smaller live oaks surrounding this venerable old tree, almost as beautiful.

One of "The Baby Trees" near The Big Tree

Some of “The Baby Trees” near The Big Tree

My friend, Susan a resident of Rockport, said “I love to come here to see this tree.”  The age of it and the graceful, gnarly limbs pulled me, too, towards it. Maybe I thought of it as a survivor. A testament to standing in the face of adversity.

The tree has inspired several poems.  This is my favorite:

I have gathered sun and rain to grow green leaves,
Swaying softly in spring, rustling like applause in fall.

My limbs have shaded generations;
My roots have reached for centuries;
My children and their children’s children surround me,
Here in this peaceful part of my land.

Golden sunlight diamonds have glinted on the ground around me.
Cold fingers of ice have touched my heartwood.
Dust-dry days of sandstorms have scoured my skin.
Torrents of rain, driven by gales have rushed at me,
And I have swayed, but stayed unbroken.
Silver moonlight has kept me company many a night.

Yet through all the seasons, sorrows, bitterness, and beauty,
All of the history I have withstood and witnessed,
There has been one thing I could not do.

I could not grow green dollars, or silver, or gold.

Will you help me, standing here before me?
Then we may both grow old together,
As old friends should,
One of flesh, one of wood.

by Mary Hoekstra, Rockport

One day the trees we have planted at The Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills will also be as inspiring!

Ann

Hummer Celebration Pictures from last year here.

Take a look at Raincatcher’s Garden Trees.

 

 

Dallas Morning News Talks Trees at The Raincatcher’s Garden

If there’s a spot in your yard that could use some shade, it’s time to think about planting trees.

Fall and winter are the best time to plant ornamental and fruit trees, arborists say.

“October, November, December — it’s the optimal time,” says Steve Houser, a certified arborist and a leader in the Dallas Citizen Forester Program.

Late-year planting allows roots to get established “before the summer blast furnace,” adds Eric Larner, an urban forestry specialist for Dallas County Master Gardeners.

“Our main planting season is probably November through March,” says Larner, 73, of Carrollton.

Larner helped select five trees planted in the master gardeners’ Raincatcher’s Garden at Midway Hills Christian Church. The garden, which includes a butterfly garden, flowers and vegetables, is designed to show the public what works.

The gardeners planted three oaks — a chinquapin (quercus muehlenbergii), Mexican white oak (quercus polymorpha) and Lacey (quercus glaucoides) — a cedar elm (ulmus crassifolia) and ginkgo (ginkgo biloba).

Notice that a live oak and red oak, two of the most popular trees in Texas, were not included.

“We need to get away from live oak and red oak,” Houser says. They are particularly susceptible to oak wilt, a disease that kills a tree, then spreads through the roots to kill other oaks nearby. Cedar elms are reliable, adaptable shade trees that are drought tolerant and turn golden yellow in the fall.

Larner says a ginkgo is part of the mix to add something a little unusual.

“The ginkgo is becoming more popular because it is drought tolerant and more likely to have fall color,” Larner says.

A ginkgo warning: Be sure it’s a male tree. Females produce stinky fruit, Larner says. “I don’t think retailers are selling females, but you need to check.”

When it comes to shade trees, probably the bigger the better. Trees with a dirt root ball wrapped in burlap are the best, but they are also more expensive, Larner says.

A container tree from a local big-box store can be fine, if it’s carefully selected and planted. If possible, ease a tree out of the container at the store to see if the roots are somewhat vertical or look more like a woven basket.

If the roots are wrapped around the root ball, they will need to be pulled out and even cut to keep them from strangling the tree after it’s planted.

The same guidelines apply to fruit trees, says Larry Stein, a specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Except he likes to plant even later.

“If I had my choice, I’d plant in the winter,” he says. January and February are his favorite time. Bare-root trees, those whose roots are usually wrapped with little or no soil, are more likely to be available. “They are cheaper,” Stein says, and you can see whether the roots are healthy. Often they are found at feed or farm supply stores.

Container-grown trees are more readily available, he says, and will do well if planted carefully. Ideally, fruit trees should be 3 to 4 feet tall. If they are taller, it’s best to trim the central trunk at the top. Side limbs should also be pruned, Stein says. Peaches, pears, plums and other fruits do well in Texas. Apples can grow but are subject to cotton root rot, Stein says.

Homeowners interested in the more unusual can try persimmons. The key, the arborists say, is to pick a tree and plant. The shade, and maybe fruit, will be well worth it.

Karel Holloway is a Terrell freelance writer.

 

Why plant a tree?

 

Trees provide shade.

 

They help clean air.

 

They can lower utility bills.

 

Roots hold soil in place.

 

Trees add value to property.

 

Choose the right tree

 

Decide what kind of tree you want. Will it primarily provide shade? Screening from an unwanted view? Fall color? Edible fruit?

 

Pick the right spot. Is there room for the size tree wanted? Remember to think about how far the tree will reach when it’s fully grown.

 

Will it interfere with driveways, walkways or the home’s foundation?

 

Will the selected tree interfere with power lines when it is full size?

 

Think about the amount of shade it will provide. Will it shade the home’s windows? When it’s full size, will it provide too much shade for grass or flowers to grow?

 

Does it have undesirable characteristics? Is there unwanted fruit? An unpleasant smell?

 

How to plant a tree

 

Select the proper site with appropriate soil type. Eric Larner, a Dallas urban tree specialist, says he ran into solid rock just a few inches down when helping plant at the master gardeners’ demonstration garden. The planters dug through the rock and planted. The tree didn’t do well, Larner says.

 

Measure the root ball and dig a hole 2 to 3 times the ball’s diameter.

 

The hole should not be too deep. The top of the root ball should be level with the ground.

 

If the hole is too deep, backfill with dirt taken from the hole. Steve Houser, a certified arborist, says it’s better to plant a tree too high than too far into the ground.

 

Remove the tree from the container. Make sure girdling roots are pulled or trimmed.

 

Place the tree in the hole and fill in with removed dirt. Fertilizer is not needed. Some compost can be mixed with the fill dirt, if desired. Larner says to be sure to stomp the dirt down so the tree won’t settle too much later.

 

Use a slow-running hose to thoroughly water the tree.

 

Put mulch around the newly planted tree, pulling it away from the trunk.

 

Protect the trunk with a purchased protector or slit the side of a 2-liter plastic bottle and place it around the trunk.

 

Water as necessary, depending on how dry the soil is. Houser says just poke your finger in the ground to see whether it’s damp a couple of inches down. Water if it’s dry.

 

SOURCE: Dallas Morning News research

More information about our tree selection here.

Berm and Tree Planting Video.

How to Plant a Bare Root Tree Video.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pick a New Landscape Tree

When August does its best to scald North Texas, one is always amazed at the cooling effect of shade. Full sun can be tolerated only to quickly check the mail or move the hose, but one can actually enjoy a shady backyard with temperatures in the nineties.

Gardeners have long done the Tree Shade Two-Step, a dance performed in early morning hours. The only rule is to follow the welcome shade for work in the garden as the sun climbs higher in the sky.

In planning the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, we were blessed with the space to plant five demonstration trees. Trees can provide shade, of course, but when correctly chosen can enhance the aesthetics of your house and increase the value your home as well. We also wanted to pick trees that showed alternatives to the monoculture of red oaks and live oaks planted in Dallas.

Dallas County Master Gardener Eric Larner and I worked in January to pick a Chinquapin Oak, Mexican or Monterrey Oak, Lacey Oak, Cedar Elm, and an ‘Autumn Gold’ Ginkgo.

January Tree Planting

January Tree Planting

Oak wilt is a lethal fungal disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of live oaks and Texas red oaks in Texas. Red oaks and live oaks, probably the most planted trees in Dallas, are highly susceptible to oak wilt. White oaks, however are more resistant to the fungus.

Three of the new trees planted this spring fall in the white oak family: the Chinquapin, Mexican or Monterrey, and Lacey oaks.

The Chinquapin oak, sometimes spelled Chinkapin, Quercus muehlenbergii is tough enough to thrive in the neglect of a nearby post office parking lot. The Chinquapin has distinctive dark-green, saw-tooth leaves. Its narrow, rounded shape and resistance to diseases and pests endears the tree to homeowners. The Chinquapin is a Texas native and designated as a Texas Superstar by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. The tree should be planted in full sun and will grow to 50-60 feet tall and 30-50 feet wide.

Chinquapin Oak Tree

Chinquapin Oak Tree

The Mexican white oak or Monterrey oak Q. polymorpha is another tough, drought resistant tree.   The new growth is pinky-peach color, darkening to thick, leathery blue-green leaves. If cold enough, the leaves turn bronze in the fall. (In mild winters, the tree could retain some leaves.) The Texas native grows into an open spreading shape 35-45 feet tall and 25-40 feet wide in full sun.

Mexican White Oak or Monterrey Oak

Mexican White Oak or Monterrey Oak

The Lacey oak Q. laceyi is a gem in the oak family. The tree matures into a small, rounded shape 20-30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. The leaves are peach-colored when young, maturing into a dusky bluish-gray (smoky) color above and a lighter color on the underside. Another Texas native, the tree is extremely drought resistant when established and gives yellow fall color.

Lacey Oak

Lacey Oak

With the cedar elm Ulmus crassifolia, we wanted to include a tree outside of the oak family that is a reliable beauty in the landscape. Instead of a ruler straight leader, cedar elms are known to adopt a wonderful irregular shape. The Texas native is deciduous, its small leaves showing yellow fall color. It flowers in late summer to fall, unlike most spring blooming trees. Cedar elms tolerate our heavy clay soil and grow to be 40-70 feet tall and 30-50 feet wide in full sun.

Cedar Elm Planted at The Raincatcher's Garden

Cedar Elm Planted at The Raincatcher’s Garden

Few trees are as stunning as a ginkgo Ginkgo biloba in the fall. It shimmers with brilliant yellow leaves, then drops them all at once. We planted the aptly named ‘Autumn Gold.’ The gingko is by far the most unusual of our tree quintuplet. Its fan- shaped leaves were part of the prehistoric landscape 200 million years ago, and the tree is often referred to as a living fossil. The gingko is found only in two small areas of China, and seeds are considered a delicacy in Japan and China. Plant only male trees grown from cuttings or grafted; female trees have an offensive smell! (Named varieties are male trees.) A gingko will slowly grow into an oval shape 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The trees have no pest problems.

Ginkgo Tree 'Autumn Gold'

Ginkgo Tree ‘Autumn Gold’

 Come see our new trees at the Raincatcher’s Garden and pick a new favorite for your yard.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

Monterrey Oak and Lacey Oak pictures by http://www.wildflower.org

Icemeggdon

Above:Crepe Myrtle Tree Ensconced in Ice

Above:Crepe Myrtle Tree Ensconced in Ice

Ice hit  North Texas hard this weekend.  Some of the effects were pretty, some were not.

Above: Broken Tree Limbs, Ice Storm Damage

Above: Broken Tree Limbs, Ice Storm Damage

We asked our fellow Master Gardener, Eric,  for advice. Driving around seeing tree limbs down all over the city is distressing. Although we can’t save every tree from ice damage, we can head off some of the damage by heeding Eric’s words:

The main damage trees sustain during ice storms are limbs that break due to the excess weight from the ice that collects on the end of the tree limbs. This is usually due to improper pruning techniques that strip all the foliage away from the limbs except for a “Lions Tail” on the very end of the limb. The ice collects on the end of the branch thus creating a very strong downward vertical cantilever force. The longer the limb, the greater chance for failure.

Having a certified Arborist prune your trees will not guarantee your trees will never suffer broken limbs during an ice storm but you will suffer far fewer broken limbs than your neighbors who hire the drive by “tree toppers”. Proper “pre-storm” tree maintenance is the key to less damage for your trees.

If your trees do suffer ice damage, be sure to contact a professional tree care company to properly access the damage and suggest the best method of treatment.

Eric

Pictures by Starla

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