High Summer

Daylily 'Africa' at Woodland Cottage

Daylily ‘Africa’ at Woodland Cottage

Here’s a link to my ‘High Summer’ newsletter.

We are beginning to turn the corner into Autumn. Can you feel it?

Enjoy the remainder of your Summer!

Posted under Garden maintenance, Newletters, Random garden thoughts, Southern Gardens, The Summer Garden, Tree work, Water in the Garden, Weather vagaries

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on August 15, 2014

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Winter Tree Work

January.

Blah.

This year, at least, has been warm enough to accomplish a few things in advance of Spring.  Friday, my excellent landscape crew came by and mulched my entire garden, from front to rear.  Our county collects leaves in the Fall and shreds them, then lets them compost.  They do the same with all the tree branches they collect throughout the year, shredding the pieces into a wonderful shredded hardwood mulch which they stockpile and allow to age.  They deliver it to county residents for a song.  I got my mulch from them this year–15 cubic yards–and the guys spread it patiently for me.  A little tricky to coordinate deliveries with the pace of the landscape crew, yet it worked out very efficiently this time.  It’s nice to have it finished early, especially since perennials and bulbs are already emerging.  We’ve had a mild Winter here.

Likewise, the tree guys (arborists) are here right now.  I was surprised to see them this morning, frankly–we had some snow and ice over the weekend, just a bit, and the temperature has hovered right around 32 so it has stayed wintry.  Plus, it’s foggy and drizzly today.  Nevertheless, the doorbell rang this morning and the crew is in the trees, pruning away.

Winter is a great time for tree work.  The structures of  the trees are apparent.  The underlying garden is dormant, reducing the chances of damage.  After all, the tree guys need to stand below the trees and maneuver those big branches they’ve cut, then cut them up and haul them out.  That’s a lot of footwork on the ground.  They don’t have to step as gingerly in the Winter, one less thing to worry about with an already stressful job that requires intense concentration.  Plus, the leaves are off the trees, lessening the weight and increasing the visibility both in the trees and from trees to ground.  One of the trees I’m having pruned is a big Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), and the backs of its leaves are tomentose (there’s your word for the day–it means “hairy”).  Those tomentose leaves can stick to clothes, I’m told, which can be a hassle.  Something I had never thought about, actually.  The biggest bonus of Winter tree work:  demand is down, so you get the work accomplished quickly at a time of year when you are not usually in your garden, anyway.  Another bonus for me:  I can be focused and engaged because this is my slow time of year.

Preparing to climb...

Preparing to climb...

Today, I’m having the big Sycamore trimmed and attending to two other trees, as well.  One is an ancient Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera).  Last summer, we had a bad thunderstorm come through (normal around here) and about a 40-foot piece from the top got broken.  Some of it fell to the ground; the rest has been resting in the top of the tree (maybe 100 feet up–I have some big trees).  Time to clear that top out and cleanly cut the tears.

Attending to the top of the Tulip Poplar

Attending to the top of the Tulip Poplar

The other tree is a Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus).  They are native on my steep hillside, and I’ve watched them slowly deteriorate over the years–from climate change?   Pollution?  Weather vagaries?  Who knows, but it is happening.  I lost three magnificent Chestnut Oaks in 2003 when Hurricane Isabel blew through.  I’ve been babying two more in my front garden.  One is an ancient, two-trunker and it has been slowly weakening.  Last year, after several years of trying to halt the decline, I threw in the towel and decided to let it die an honorable death.  Very sad for me because this tree sets the tone for my magical woodland garden.  Yet, life goes on and I’ve come to accept the inevitable outcome.  So I’m enjoying the time I have left with this magnificent tree.  When it goes, the adjacent, young Live Oak (Quercus virginiana, an evergreen Oak) will finally have some breathing room and a chance to expand and shine.  I planted it many years ago, anticipating the loss of the larger tree.

Back to the other Chestnut Oak in the back garden:  the arborists are pruning out the dead top, back to the thick, green branches lower down the trunk.  A note here:  I **HATE** topping trees (see more about ‘crape murder’ here).  But removing this tree completely will wipe out a significant portion of summer leaf coverage/privacy in my back garden, so I’m choosing this option vs. removing the tree outright at this time.

Arborist in the top of the Chestnut Oak

Arborist in the top of the Chestnut Oak

To watch excellent arborists at work is mesmerizing.  It’s like watching acrobats.  Ropes, pulleys, people going up and down–what a talent and art it is.  Just amazing.  My hat is off to them for their knowledge, professionalism, care and courage.  What a joy to hear their calls and laughter, even on such a crummy day.  It is obvious they love their work.

Big Chestnut Oak branch coming down...

Big Chestnut Oak branch coming down...

...and on the ground, ready to cut up.

...and on the ground, ready to cut up.

Meantime, one of my neighbors just came around, asking for some of the wood from the Chestnut Oak.  He says it makes excellent firewood, so yes, have at it!

Here is the crew of seasoned professionals!

Here is the crew of seasoned professionals!

Taking care of your trees is an investment–trees are beneficial to us in so many ways:  they cool our environment; provide screening and habitat for our wildlife friends.  And the beauty they provide softens the surrounding landscape, relaxes our eyes, and adds value to our home investment.  I love, love, love my trees.

Are you taking proper care of your trees?  Do you need to invest in some tree work?

Photos by the author.  If you copy, please link back.

Posted under Garden maintenance, Pruning, The Winter Garden, Tree work

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on January 23, 2012

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