- Author: Riva Flexer
I know…it sounds horrible, and it's usually unintentional. You've all been a witness, one time or another, walking past a landscaped bed, or yard, or municipal parking lot or park…and there it is…a tree fastened firmly to a nursery stake that it outgrew a couple of years ago or a decade ago. Or maybe it's a label that is now embedded in tree bark…or even worse, it's a fastening that completely girdles the trunk or branch.
So why is this so bad? Why am I so indignant and upset, to the point of speaking to personnel at my car dealer about these horticultural faux pas (errors to those whose French is long forgotten)?
It's a couple of issues.
The first is that young trees, even those freshly planted in their new and permanent location, need to move a bit. I liken it to that broken arm or leg that eventually comes out of its cast or splint. If it stays supported forever, the muscles wither away. It's bad enough after six weeks of restraint (hurray for physiotherapy!)
When a sapling arrives in its five or fifteen-gallon pot, it is firmly attached to a nursery stake, usually with green nursery tape, from top to bottom. Often one sees that stake, coupled with two heavier stakes on either side, with the tree attached firmly in the middle up and down the trunk. And there it stays… I've seen thirty-year old ornamental crab apple trees with a stake stuck in the bark. I've seen tape stuck in the bark, and wiring, and other fasteners. That brings me to the “other issue”.
Tree bark is more than just a covering. Yes, it protects the wood below from insect and other damage, but what is it actually protecting? It's covering the tree's vascular system, its circulatory system. Just below that bark is the phloem and xylem, technical terms for the two types of veins, if you like, that help feed that tree. The phloem transports the sap, which contains sugars manufactured through photosynthesis by the leaves, down through the tree where it feeds the tree. The xylem carries water and minerals from the roots up through the tree.
When the bark is compressed, this compression damages or cuts through the phloem and xylem, impeding or preventing this essential circulation. It is particularly damaging if the pressure girdles (goes around) the entire branch or trunk. The tree begins to languish, and no amount of food or water will improve its health. A girdled tree will die.
So what can I do, you ask? Now you know that when you see trees with tight bindings, you now know it's not good for the tree. Check your garden, and inform your friends. It's a common mistake. A tree with unencumbered bark is a happy tree!
But what about staking, you ask? That's a topic for another time!
- Author: Sharon L. Rico
This summer, I have been fortunate to have traveled to Mendocino in July and Yosemite in October. Both trips involved driving and walking thru the incredible redwoods, and each trip was a different experience.
The coastal redwoods in Navarro (Mendocino County) are breathtaking. After winding over the rolling hills and valleys of the beautiful Anderson Valley on highway 128, you slow down to drive through this awesome redwood grove. Only 12 acres in size, the forest of trees appears to go on forever. This portion of the road is often called ‘the Tunnel of Redwoods-to-the-Sea'. Coastal redwoods are one of the tallest living things and nothing is more beautiful than to observe the sun shining through the top branches.
Second growth redwood groves stretch the length of the Navarro River Redwood State Park, which is the smallest state park in California. It is home to raccoons, coastal black tail deer and birds such as the ‘belted kingfisher', whose habitats are river-oriented. Unlike most coastal parks, the weather gets as warm as 85-90 degrees.
Coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), are native to the central and northern California coast. This area has moderate to heavy winter rain and summer fog that is vital to this tree. Another important redwood in California is the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), of the Sierra Nevada. We enjoyed this massive tree in Yosemite. Coastal redwoods are taller, thinner trees. The sequoias are shorter and massive in width.
Now only inhabiting a narrow belt along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, the giant sequoias were once found across much of the northern hemisphere. They are a member of the cypress family, (Cupressaceae), and survive in 75 isolated groves in California. They are home to the Black bear, Acorn woodpecker, and the Mule deer. The climate at 6,000 feet in elevation means heavy snows, sunny days, cold nights, frequent fire and sufficient moisture, which enable the giant sequoias to flourish. Through research and experimentation it was discovered that fire promotes reproduction of these giants. It clears away the competing fir and cedar trees, exposing bare mineral soil for the tiny sequoia seeds to root.
Mother nature is amazing and being in the redwoods is experiencing years of history! How small one feels when walking among these beautiful giants.
- Author: Trisha Rose
- Author: Jenni Dodini
This time of year always Leaves me with a lot of wonderment at the work of Mother Nature. The leaves and nuts are falling off the trees en masse. I watch the trees all through the summer wondering how the nuts will taste, how many of them there will be, how they go from the contrails, also called "wormy looking things", to nuts. In our MG classes, we learned so much about trees. The classes made sense of Mother Nature's mysteries. They made me look at the trees differently. They gave me reason to seek out "expert consultation" from my husband's dad when looking at the effects of the weather on the trees. Also when inspecting the leaves for pests.
The other thing that occurs at this time of year is that I am left with a whole lot of leaves.
- Author: Karen Metz
I was raised to have an every cloud has a silver lining type of outlook. I will admit though that this drought has been getting the best of me. I am so tired of brown and straw color. I am tired of crispy foliage. I am tired of trying to coax things to survive rather than thrive. As gardeners, it is in our nature to nurture, not ponder which plant I will stop watering next. I am tired of lugging heavy buckets of water left over from washing vegetables in the kitchen sink or saved while waiting for the water to warm up. I'VE Had IT!
Right, well that didn't accomplish much. I decided to try and cheer myself up or at least distract myself with trying to think of positive things about the drought. I had to think a good long while. Finally a few things did come to me. First, and probably best, there are fewer snails and slugs to deal with. I loathe them. Some years I feel I am engaged in actual battle trying to beat the snails. There are early morning forays out to the landscape to surprise the snails before they get back to their hiding places. Probably had fewer to deal with this year than any year since I moved here in 1989. I actually got to eat strawberries without holes in them this year.
I have also had fewer mosquito bites this year so I think that translates to fewer mosquitoes. It makes sense since there is less standing water around for larvae to grow in. The weeds are easier to see since so much of the surrounding vegetation is languishing. Since they are easier to see, I can go after them earlier. Still need to weed out those competitors for water.
I must be saving money since I am buying fewer plants. I am seeing what is doing well during this drought and when it is over, plan to replace plantings with more of the survivors. That is about all I could come up with. I'd love to hear other positives as people think of them.