Choosing and Growing Trees
Trees bring lasting beauty and value to the landscape. They can also be the longest to mature and cost a significant amount of the landscaping budget. Making wise choices saves many mistakes.
Trees are also a very important part of the environment. They provide food for wildlife and people.
There is something soul satisfying about trees, in a ways few other plants can match, so they inspire some musings and inspired thoughts, as well.
Years ago I wrote a bit about how fall color sometimes surprises me. Here in the Midwest we are surrounded by the rich tapestry of autumn trees and goldenrod field flowers, but sometimes overlook the many other forms of fall color. It is a great time to take your camera and notebook and make notes about plants that add to the end season picture- the last hurrah of the garden’s bright colors.
One of my favorite ways to find potential combinations of new plants for the season is to visit an arboretum, Dawes is one in the Central Ohio area, or a fine public park, like Inniswood gardens. Even in years such as this one, which aren’t ideal for foliage, you can still glean many good ideas about berried bushes, late blooming flowers, and colorful perennial and shrub foliage.
Fall is one of the most reliably enjoyable seasons in Ohio.
Be sure to see Gardens in Ohio.
It isn’t official, but for Ohioan gardeners the passing of Labor Day marked the end of our season of full tilt gardening, and we entered our autumn in feeling and attitude. In my area this part of the year is dry, but in 2008 it is a little drier than usual.
We went for a short hike yesterday, but not before I had watered all my containers…yet they still had that seedy look that comes with the end of summer and the dry air just seems to suck all the moisture right out of the pots. It is time to think of taking cuttings for the winter sleepover that I hope to hold in my house for some of the choicer ones. I have some really pretty double impatiens and several geraniums to keep. Whether higher energy prices, which will result in cooler temperatures at my house, will be helpful or harmful remains to be seen.
See, I’m talking winter already!
What is truly seasonal is to plant trees this month. I wrote a new article, “Planting a Tree or a Shrub” to go along with autumn gardening tips @ ‘Ilona’s Garden‘. I’m not sure if I will plant more trees this year… they weren’t really in the plan. My plans for the fall are to increase some of the groundcovers, and I can never resist planting more bulbs.
The autumn clematis on my old trellis is blooming now. I noticed it yesterday. I let it get out of bounds, and it clambers over eveything in the near vicinity. It is very vigorous and has come back from some harsh winters stronger than ever, every time. I love the small flowers that completely cover the vine and the soapy sweet scent it gives to the air in the garden. Blooming for quite a long period normally, it is one of the plantings that lend interest to the end of the season, along with the asters some of which are also showing a bit of bloom. If they weren’t headed back earlier in the season, they tend to start blooming now. I cut many of them back in early July to create a more compact plant and delay the bloom.
Mums are going on sale… and that always says fall to me.
September is still very hot, and during our walk in the park yesterday, we perspired quite a bit even under the tree canopy. I am not eager to plant any thing quite yet due to the droughty conditions, but I can’t wait too long. The Almanac predicts a very cold December. Although I don’t know that they are correct so far. whether they are or whether they’re not, my new perennials would have to get settled in and sturdily rooting before the ground freezes.
How is your garden growing this September? Are you planning to plant any additional trees or shrubs this fall?
To Prune or Not to Prune, That is the Question
Google keeps sending people to my blog for answers on when to prune a mugho or mugo pine. I know I’ve mentioned it in posts, but now it is time to inform everyone of the best time and the proper way to prune a Pinus mugo mugo
Don’t trim or prune your pine in the fall. That is the short answer. Pines will stop growing from the points at which you prune off their branches (they do not produce new buds from old wood) if you do it out of season. The right season is when the new candle growth begins in the spring.
The right way and time to prune a Mugo is when the new growth (candles) sprout out .You simply spruce them up (couldn’t resist the pun) by cutting the candles in half. Some people say “pinch growth by two thirds”, but I let them get a bit longer and slice them in half with the pruners (secateurs).
The main thing is to cut back just the new growth at this time.
Prune a Mugo Pine in the Spring
If you prune in this way it gives the most natural looking trim. I would keep up with it regularly, since mugos often get bigger than their reputation for being dwarf would indicate.
I have two shrubs at this property and had several at my city home years ago. There is a lot of variation in the compactness and ultimate size of pine shrubs labeled “Mugho” or “Mugo”.
They all look so nice and compact when you get the little ones at the nursery, but they grow into sizes that can overwhelm foundation plantings if you let them. The expert reason given:
Mugo Pine’s incredible, yet frustrating, variation is primarily the result of its large native range. Plants with large territories tend to have greater nature/variation than plants with small ranges because they must be flexible enough to adapt to different climactic conditions to survive. Mugo pine’s native range is western Europe, eastern Europe, southern Europe, and western Asia. Such a broad range requires a chameleon-like ability to adapt to different situations, which is why specimens of every size, shape and description can be found. Although there are many kinds of cultivated and naturally growing types, all are commonly known as mugo pine.
So there you go- if you happen to have one that grows larger, you can use the pruning technique of halving the candles each year, or so, to control the size. If I were to go shopping for mugo pine shrubs today I would look for the P. mugo cultivars “Mops”, “Sherwood Compact” and “Slowmound”… as advised by Anne Pink.
The previous post (2004) on pruning mugo pines.
Tags: Mugho Pine, prune,mugo pine
Sometimes it is interesting what people are looking for when they land on your page. Here are a few questions that people had according to my Statcounter, along with the answers I have for them today.
- When to mulch garden? Well, for this time of year I would wait until we have had frozen ground, or at least until a few hard frosts have passed over us. The reason is simple, even though it is pleasant to work outside while the sun still shines and the air around is holds a bit of warmth, the rodents aren’t yet done finding their homes for the winter… and a newly mulched garden seems made just for their good pleasure. “Why thank you good mum, good master! How thoughtful to have me cozied up to your own house with ready made garden plant munchings for my winter repasts… thank ye, thank ye”, you may almost hear them chattering.
- Is peat the same as peat moss? Well as I answered here, in my “I (heart) Peatmoss” post, NO.
- Sweet gum leaves good for mulch? Yes, they make wonderful mulch, but you may want them without the little seedballs. Or not. I forgot to add the Sweet Gums, which I do grow, to my tree list. So I think at some point I will make a whole post on this, one of my favorite trees… with seeds or seedless
- Dirty talk journals? OK, it’s not what you think. It’s actual dirt…soil.. you know, growing medium.
- Raking leaves Ohio? Oh yes. We do rake the leaves here, and I haven’t started yet, but today is perfect to start. Sunny, dry, golden October day (and one of the last). time to get the rakes and leaf shredder out and collect those leaves in earnest.
- Leaf rotted soil conditioner? My advice is “make our own”. Here is how: mulch leaves and pile in the vegetable garden or add judiciously to an extra compost pile just for the task, but you can make it according to the experts advice if you want.
Technorati Tags: garden questions,
|Sycamore tree in Ohio|
I come by my love of trees genetically- my mother was an original tree hugger. Back in the sixties we lived on a tree-lined city street, the way most city avenues were at that time: large overhanging trees that shaded the asphalt and the concrete, that were hefty enough to climb, and which turned beautiful oranges and yellows in the fall. But along about the mid-sixties it became vogue to cut down all those trees- they were messy with their leaves that needed to be raked and their roots which cracked all the ticky-tacky sidewalk squares. And so they began to be felled… One or two at time along the streets. About four doors down was a giant Sycamore between the street and the sidewalk.
An oddity of a former time, as its girth looked to predate the twenties when this neighborhood was likely a new subdivision on the outskirts of the city. A full grown Sycamore is more of a rustic country tree; it has ghostly white upper branches from the peeling bark, and usually is seen along river banks rising strongly with wide mottled trunks. It has large hand-like leaves, and little balls of seeds that litter the woodland floor and river banks. It is not a neat and tidy city tree. But such a giant takes many, many years to grow to such majestic proportion, and this tree stood alone in the neighborhood as a relic from the past.
The neighbor, however, had plans to cut it down. I don’t know how my mother caught wind of this fact… But it turned her into a tornado of activity to save that tree. She was successful for the time we lived there… I suppose the neighbor eventually did not know what to make of such fierce love of trees and determination… I have not been back there for a very long time and don’t know if her efforts remained efficacious, but the lesson of love for something that is not quickly replaced, and which speaks of natures grandeur is something that has stayed with me all my life. I mourn to see the reckless way ancient oaks and such are so often removed for more asphalt and more development housing…. And the convenience of today’s idea of “progress”.
It takes only a fierce and loyal love to instill in the coming generation a respect for growing things and preserved environments, and my mother had that. There are times for growing and times for cutting down…To paraphrase the passage of Ecclesiastes, but it is the time for preservation that we have most lost sight of, and which most needs our balancing efforts.
I have, now, a fast growing Sycamore in my field…grown from a seedling, now a sizable tree.
That sycamore came from my mother… and you will be happy to hear,that although most of the trees of that neighborhood were cut down, the one my mother championed still grows. Google maps (street views) confirmed it.