Christmas Tree Alternatives
by Bob Westerfield

With the Christmas season upon us, many folks have already spent $50 to $100 dollars for a dead, cut Christmas tree, or perhaps dragged their plastic version out of storage. While there is something to be said about having a traditional cut tree such as a blue spruce or Douglas fir, it is hard for me to fathom spending that much money on a dead tree you will only enjoy a few weeks. If you are one of those folks that have procrastinated and not gotten the tree up yet, you might want to think about some alternatives that will work for Christmas morning, but also give you lasting enjoyment in your landscape for years to come.   >> read article
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Plant an Awesome Autumn: Trees for Fall Color
by Scott A. Zanon

Autumn is the time for football and to relish the most beautiful of our four seasons. Many trees have been waiting to show off their foliage. One of the great things about living where we do is the ever-changing seasons. For a few weeks, nature puts on one of its most spectacular displays as trees complete the growing season in a brilliant display of fall colors.   >> read article
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Fruit Tree Friends
by Alan Branhagen

Companion planting is the idea that certain plants attract beneficial insects and fix soil nutrients in the edible garden. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world out there; it’s a bug-eat-bug world that forms the food chain that feeds us.

Fresh fruit picked off your own trees is a hot horticultural pursuit these days. Homeowners envision delectable apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries dripping from their trees. Well, truth be told, there’s a lot of work that goes into those beautiful fruits. Bumps and blemishes from an army of fruit tree pests are the reality of the orchardist.   >> read article
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Cantankerous Cankers
by Christopher Starbuck

The term “canker” refers to a lesion on a twig, branch or stem, usually caused by a bacterial or fungal pathogen. The appearance of cankers varies, depending on the host and the pathogen. Often, the bark of the affected stem or trunk is sunken and discolored. Fluids may ooze from a canker or fungal fruiting structures may appear on the bark covering or surrounding the lesion. In some cases, lesions remain small and isolated, causing no major problems for the host plant. In other cases, the canker spreads widely, causing death of twigs, branches or even the main trunks of trees. The best known example of the destructive potential of a canker disease is chestnut blight, caused by the fungus Endothia parasitica, which caused the virtual extinction of the American chestnut within 40 years of its accidental introduction to the United States in about 1900.   >> read article
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Those “Other” Magnolias
by Scott Beuerlein

There are three reasons people don’t plant magnolias anymore: 1) Everybody assumes “magnolia” means only the saucer magnolias (Magnolia x soulangeana) they remember from their youth, which, 2) ate all of Grandma’s front yard, and 3) had its flowers blasted every third year by a frost. Now, listen to me carefully: These reasons are dumb.   >> read article
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Sweet Native Fruit Trees That Won’t Leave You Bitter
by Scott Beuerlein

With surprising regularity, some poor schlep of a volunteer from a community garden – abuzz with visions of plump, perfect sweet cherries, heirloom apples, and sugar plums dancing in his or her head – will email me with a simple question that they expect will have a simple answer. The question is always some variation on this: “What apples, pears, and peaches would you recommend for a community orchard?” I wish I could see the looks on their faces when they get a big old heaping serving of attitude.   >> read article
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What Are Champion Trees?
by William “Jack” Rowe

You may hear people speak of them reverently. You might catch word of a “big tree,” an important tree, a “Champion Tree.” But trees don’t compete for titles; they grow their own crowns and are made into trophies instead of receiving them. Trees do compete though. Rooting space, water, light, pollinators, producing many seeds, and so on are the prizes trees, by their nature, seek. It’s the winners of these competitions that we humans notice and some of these winners are named Champion Trees.   >> read article
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Native Trees for the Landscape
Add native trees to your landscape to help biodiversity
by Scott A. Zanon

So what is a “native” tree? It can be any tree from a state or region. The deciduous trees considered for this article are native to North America, and once established, should grow and survive in their planted areas. Most are tough trees rarely affected by urban life and environmental issues.

Some gardeners seem highly interested and motivated to plant native trees. Native trees appear to adapt better to landscape environments compared to alternative species, and they help protect and restore biodiversity. Natives are effective for use in urban, suburban and rural developed landscapes.

Below are 15 trees to consider for your landscape or property with important notes and descriptions about each. I hope you carefully study these and consider planting a few in your property. They are durable yet functional native tree choices.   >> read article
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