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Tornado Damage to Trees in Dallas

Tornadoes ripped through Dallas, October 20, 2019. What a loss for our city when you count property destroyed and trees uprooted or damaged.

 

Many of our beautiful trees were destroyed.

Eric Larner, Dallas County Master Gardener and Citizen Forester and Steve Houser, also a Dallas County Master Gardener and President    of Arborilogical Services discuss what happened and what to expect in the paragraphs below. They also remind us-we have a lot of tree planting ahead!

Eric, do you have anything you would like to tell the readers of our blog about trees after the tornado?

Have there been any estimates of the loss in terms of trees? I wonder what percentage of our tree canopy in Dallas was destroyed?
 
 
What recommendations would you give?
 
 
Maybe we should have a class so people could come ask questions and see our tree selection.
 
Ann Lamb

From Eric Larner-Great questions – Of course, the damage a tornado (100+mph winds) against ANY tree is almost always 100% fatal to the survival of the tree no matter the size of the tree. But tornados take weird and strange paths(i.e. total destruction on one side of the street and very little damage on the other side).

I would refer you to Steve Houser on estimates of destruction to the city’s overall tree canopy. I do know that to replace the benefits of one very LARGE tree( 40-50” caliper) takes 150+ 3” trees planted and that would take around 25+ years to achieve. So you see, we will need to plant a lot of trees in our city.

A neighborhood class talking about medium – large shade trees  would probably focus on alternative choices to red oaks and live oaks in the metroplex.

Eric Larner

From Steve Houser-As Eric noted, the damage often follow unusual paths.  We had a storm in late June with 70 MPH winds that damaged properties in south Richardson all the way to downtown Dallas.  One of the ten recent tornados contained over 140 MPH winds that took out houses and most (or all) of the trees on a property.  Many huge Oaks were blown over and those that survived often had extensive damage.

Eric’s notes  are accurate calculations regarding how long it takes to replace the biomass (or foliage) of one large tree.  Although it replaces the biomass in 25 years, it does not replace a cool and old tree for around 100 years.

If you consider the losses from both the events noted above, a guess at the loss in canopy cover would be between 4 to 5%.  Although it does not sound extensive, it was easily over 100,000 trees lost or damaged.

Trees lost or damaged included up to 90% of the canopy coverage in specific areas with 140 MPH winds and less in areas with 60-100 MPH winds.

We have handouts on recommended species.  As Eric noted, Raincatcher’s Garden is a great demonstration garden for some of the choices.

  • It is always best to check with a consulting arborist and ask for a full assessment of all trees.  Keep in mind that it may take some time to get them out but they can help to detect trees that can fail structurally in the future and determine the best course of action for a damaged tree.
  • DCMG`s have already been taught about cabling/bracing, reducing end weight on long limbs and determining weak forks in trees, to help reduce future damage or losses.
  • If a tree lost 20-30% of its foliage, it may be salvageable and recover.
  • If a tree lost 40-60% of its foliage, it will never look the same again but may have a chance to survive.
  • If a tree lost 70-100% of its foliage, most arborists recommend removal and replacement.  However, if the primary branching structure is not severely damaged, they will not look good but some of them can be saved.  Some folks may leave the tree for a year or two to see if it grows back and how it looks.  In some cases, another tree or two will be planted nearby and to possibly replace the damaged tree at later date.

Steve Houser

The Raincatcher’s Garden will host a tree class in early 2020.

As Eric said, it will be about tree selection, and also care of trees.

We will announce the date of the class in January, 2020.

To read some of our previous material about tree care, click on the links below.

Pick a New Landscape Tree

Ornamental Trees for Texas

Berms and Tree Planting at Raincatcher’s

When and Why to Plant Trees

Thank you, Eric and Steve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dallas County Master Gardeners and Japanese Maples

Everyone loves Japanese Maples! Dallas County Master Gardeners were able to learn about them from expert, Scott Hubble, at our September meeting last week.

Scott works at Metro Maples in Fort Worth  and shared a wealth of information about these trees which come in all shapes, sizes and many colors.

Our Texas sun is the most important factor to consider when picking a location for a Japanese Maple. Morning sun with shade in the afternoon is generally perfect.

Japanese Maples are well situated when they are under the canopy of larger trees receiving dappled light throughout the day.

Remember they do not like soggy roots so plant them in areas with drainage.

No more words, let’s gaze at these beauties.

Look carefully inside this Japanese Maple to see homeowner’s mailbox. This  25-30 year old tree grew around the mailbox.

Thank you Metro Maples for the presentation and pictures.

Ann Lamb

All Master Gardener meetings are  held the 4th Thursday of the month at varying locations are open to the public.

Tool Time and education for all Thursday, October 3rd at 10am at The Raincatcher’s Garden. Click here for details.

Don’t forget to visit the Red Maple Rill at the Dallas Arboretum with over 80 varieties of signature Red Maples.

 

When and Why To Plant Trees

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and second best time is now.” ​ A Chinese Proverb

We live within an urban forest in Dallas County that comes from the natural topography and citizens who have planted trees around neighborhoods. Our urban forest is very important to our well-being and environmental health. Pavement and buildings cause a “heat island effect” which increases radiant heat within the city. Trees provides shade that helps mitigate this effect by reducing temperatures as well as absorbing pollution and decrease storm water run-off.

According to a University of Washington study, one tree that is 32 feet high can catch up to 327 gallons of water, and smog levels are reduced up to 6%. Oncor provides a tree-planting guide for selecting the right tree for the right location. Even though it is heart-breaking to see so many trees cut down or sculpted, we do understand the need for safety and our own need for reliable electrical service. Click here for the free guide.

Dallas County Master Gardeners have planted a border at Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, 11001 Midway, that we call the Under-the-Power-Lines garden. We planted tree specimens that fall into the “low” category, staying under 20 feet tall. If you’re considering a low tree for a location near power lines, check out our border to see how the trees might look in your own landscape. Most of ours were planted around 3.5 years ago, including Mexican Plum, Possumhaw Holly, Texas Mountain Laurel, Mexican Buckeye and Royal Purple Smoke Tree (a favorite of ours that isn’t on Oncor’s list). Vitex is another good option, and we have a specimen near our Shade Pavilion. It blooms in summer with big purple spikes and can grow as a large shrub or small tree.

 

You can find this garden border on the north side of the Midway Hills Christian Church campus along the parking lot. The Dallas County Master Gardeners program is run by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Dallas County Master Gardeners encourage our citizens to plant a tree. Go to the following link which will help you select the right tree for your space, and planting instructions. http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/

Zandra Farris

Pictures courtesy of  https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/ornamentals/natives/GALLERYINDEX1.HTM except our own Vitex picture.


Tree Selection and Planting Class

Tuesday, February 5th
10am until noon
Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, 11001 Midway Rd, Dallas, TX

Community Hall and North Garden

Winter is a good time to establish new trees in your landscape. Tom Wilten will speak on selecting the right tree for the right location here in North Texas and teach how to plant and care for your tree with the confidence that it will provide many years of enjoyment.  Following the class in the Community Hall, you’re invited out to the north garden for an optional tour to see the Raincatcher’s tree demonstrations, including both shade trees and ornamental trees appropriate (and recommended by Oncor) for planting under power lines. The class is free and all are welcome!

Speaker, Tom Wilten, is a Dallas County Master Gardener and practicing general dentist who has maintained a long time interest in plants and horticulture. He loves to watch plants grow, and many of the trees in his large home landscape were propagated from cuttings. He has served as a past president of First Men’s Garden Club of Dallas, Texas, and as a national director and regional president in the parent organization. His original articles on various aspects of horticulture have been published in a national club’s magazine. Always an informative and entertaining speaker, Raincatcher’s is pleased to welcome Tom to the garden.

Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills is a demonstration garden and project of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Dallas County Master Gardeners located on the campus of Midway Hills Christian Church. To find the class, please park in the west parking lot and come through the courtyard to the south building.  

Trimming Vitex

Hopefully, you have taken a moment to watch Evelyn  explain what our Vitex tree needed. Click here for the video if you missed it.

Vitex tree in need of a trim.
Here’s the before picture.

The dormant season is the recommended time for pruning, but sometimes your work force, needs, and timing come together in other seasons.  Evelyn  and Susan, experienced gardeners, took our large, unruly bush and gave it a comely shape.

Here’s the result:

Vitex tree after pruning

Read more about Vitex trees here and in Dallas you can see these trees growing outside the Nasher Museum in downtown Dallas and at the Dallas Arboretum.

Ann Lamb

Picture and video by Starla Willis

Pruning by Susan Swinson and Evelyn Womble

 

 

 

The Strange, True and Unappreciated Story of Oak Galls

Insects are as a group complicated and mysterious. Everyone loves dragonflies.  Butterflies have clubs and societies devoted to their protection.  Gardens are designed just to attract them.  There are t-shirts and even jewelry to honor them.  Why every sighting seems to cause joy and excitement.

Oak Galls are amazing and mysterious—but for some reason nothing seems to be done in their honor.

Handfull of Oak Galls

This is not fair–and this is why. Oak galls are made by tiny creatures almost all of these are cynipid wasps.  Just as there are different types of butterfly that will lay eggs on only a specific type of plant, different types of cynipid wasp that will only lay eggs on one type of oak.  The tiny egg produces chemicals that cause the tree to produce the strange growths called galls.  The galls are different for each type of tree.  The larvae hatch inside the gall where they eat and live until they are mature and able to hatch, fly mate and start the process all over again.

<Larvae Centered Inside Oak Gall, Cradled by Pink Fingernails

The galls are hard to see until they fall to the ground. If this happens before the creature is mature the gall can be cut open to reveal the little larvae.  Of course, then it will not become a wasp—but this might be ok—in the interest of science.

The larvae only eat inside the gall. They do not damage any more of the tree.  In fact the tree is almost never harmed by galls.  The adults are wasps, but they do not sting.  The galls themselves can be beautiful like the oak plum galls which do indeed look like little fruits.

Gall formation is unpredictable. Some years there are a lot of them, other years very few.

All in all these are simply little creatures that happen to have developed an amazing way of protecting themselves as they grow to be adults.

Have you ever heard of anyone planting oak trees in hopes of attracting cynipid wasps—it is doubtful. There seem to be no societies to appreciate and protect them.

This needs to change. Look around for oak galls.  Tell your children their wonderful and amazing life story.  Now surely someone could design a great t-shirt!!

Susan Thornbury

Pictures by Starla Willis

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.

 

 

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