The September Arbor

Arbor and Moonflower One thing I really like about garden structures: no matter how much rain, how hot, or how dry they always look good! Fortunately our arbor also has the added benefit of a nice annual vine plant (moonflower) wrapping around it. Here is the arbor from the side yard looking toward the front yard. The homemade stepping stones are cured, solid, and very walkable now. Please ignore the cinder block on the left - it's leftover from installing a rain barrel I recently purchased. I've been meaning to tell you about it but haven't yet but I'm very pleased with its performance so far (It's this one from Fiskars)! The plantings on the left are coleus, iris, a Japanese maple (which is just outside of the picture) and a crape myrtle. A few hostas are also mixed into the garden. On the right is the self-sowing garden which…

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The Stalwart River Birch (Betula nigra)

Some plants are determined. Something in their genetic make-up decided long ago that nothing would get them down and nothing ever does. Take this river birch (Betula nigra) for instance. I received it from the Arbor Day Foundation but this isn't one of the 10 "free" trees I received with my donation. I actually purchased this one. It was one of several trees I used as the subject of my Arbor Day experiment last fall. Now it's time for an update. First let me tell you why I picked this tree. Several years ago my brother had his wedding in California at his wife's grandmother's house. She had a spectacular garden with hydrangeas, trumpet vines, and of course birches. The two trees she had in her garden provided a very nice shady area next to her patio. In the picture you can see the white bark of the birch she…

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An Arbor Day Pledge

Coming up on April 25, 2008 is Arbor Day. It's a day to celebrate a unique feature of our planet the trees. The trees are so important to us. They serve as the planet's lungs filtering the air we breathe, they provide us fruit and nuts to eat, paper to read and write with, drugs like aspirin and shade to sit beneath on a hot and humid summer day. Without trees we would be in a desolate place devoid of much of what we love about this planet. Arbor Day actually started way back in 1870 in Nebraska and has continued to this day to spread the planting of trees from the United States to countries around the world.In an effort to encourage the planting of trees in our yards and gardens around the world I am proposing a simple pledge that I would like everyone who likes trees to…

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Arbor Day Tree Update No. 1 or Do Deer use Pruners?

I have to ask do deer use pruners? I was walking in my yard transplanting a willow and went over to one of the free maples I planted.And to what did my wondering eyes appear?A slice off the tip of my maple by a deer!Perfectly sheered as if the deer carried a set of bypass pruners in its pockets! I was afraid the deer might snack on my trees. It seems that a maple is good for lunch, dinner or even that late night snack. I wish the maple had not appeared on the deer's menu but that just confirms what I was thinking. I should find two larger "Sunset" maples to put in the yard instead. Larger trees would stand a better chance against the appetite of the white-tailed midnight muncher. Don't get me wrong I like the deer coming to visit. I just wish they would bring a…

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Arbor Day Experiment (Part 2-2)

In one of my last posts I mentioned receiving my free Arbor Day trees. Those trees have now been planted. While planting them I was pleasantly surprised by a couple things.1. The trees were marked very clearly with the color coding system. It was not just a thin little line above the roots indicating which tree they were, but rather a very large blot. This made identifying the twigs a lot easier.2. The root systems were in great shape! It may have been since they were in the ground so long before shipping because the weather has stayed warmer longer.There was one tree that may have arrived dead but I planted it anyway just in case.Here's what I did!I put 8 of my saplings into a trough planter that was used last year for some trees. I mixed together some potting soil and some mulch for improved drainage then put…

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Arbor Day Experiment (Part 2)

Part two of my Arbor Day experiment will begin soon! Today I received my 10 free trees. I found them unceremoniously shoved into my mailbox courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service. Fortunately I don't think any damage was done. I would think that a package that has LIVE PLANTS in big letters on the outside of it would dropped off by the door and not shoved into a mailbox shorter than the package! But enough complaining, on to the trees!I was able to choose from several of the available free tree packages and picked the Wild Bird Garden. It's a selection of trees and shrubs that make good habitats or food sources for birds and wildlife. Here are the plants that came in it: a Burr Oak, a Northern Red Oak, an Arrowwood Viburnum, a River Birch, a Gray Dogwood, a Tulip tree, two Canadian Hemlocks, a Sargent Crabapple, and…

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Arbor Day Experiment (Part 1)

They finally came! My experiment with Arbor Day has begun. Earlier in the year I ordered several trees from the National Arbor Day Society. I also got a few free trees with my order. I know many people have had mixed results when ordering from Arbor Day. They either have trees that don't make it through the winter, receive dead trees, or get the wrong plant. Most of what I received was in good condition, not perfect, but good. My ornamental cherry tree had one branch that was broken at the top and one on the side. The little hemlocks I got were very little (not a big surprise) and one of the four had lost quite a few leaves. I received two free red maples that seemed to be in good shape with adequate root systems for the size trees they were (3 foot). I also got a couple…

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