Silk Trees for Summer Beauty

August 4th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Set out starts of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and lettuce for a fall harvest. Spray weekly with BT to keep the cabbage worms at bay.
    • Birdbaths will attract our feathered friends to your backyard so you can enjoy them close-up. Place them a few feet from a bushy shrub to give the birds protection.
    • Japanese maples may be pruned now in order to shape them.
    • Mottled leaves are often a sign of spider mites. Check for them with a hand lens or bring a leaf into your nursery for identification and treatment options.
    • First-year fruit trees need to be well-watered through the dry weather. If they are neglected the first year, they may never be strong, productive trees.

Silk Trees for Summer Beauty

One of the prettiest summer-flowering trees is the silk tree or mimosa. A native of many parts of Asia, this tree goes by the botanical name Albizia julibrissin. It is known as mimosa because its leaves resemble those of the sensitive plant which is the true Mimosa. It is called the silk tree because it comes from that part of the world where silk is made.

This tree has feathery, fernlike foliage that creates an umbrella of dappled shade. The leaves are made up of many leaflets and they fold up on cool evenings, like the leaves of a sensitive plant do when you touch them.

The flowers, which bloom in the summer, are very showy and look like pink powder-puffs resting on top of the dark green foliage. The variety ‘Flame’ has fluffy bright red flowers and ‘E.H. Wilson‘, which has pink fluffy flowers, is more cold-hardy than the species. The flowers attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.

The silk tree is used in parking lots, in lawns and parks and can be grown in large containers. It is popular for use as a patio or terrace tree for the filtered shade that it provides and the tropical effect. The flowers are most attractive when viewed from above, so it is nice when planted on a slope below the house.

This fast-growing, deciduous tree has a low-branching, open, spreading habit. It is often grown with multiple trunks which make a nice pattern when the lower branches are removed. It adds a tropical effect to the landscape.

Albizia are generally tough trees. They take a wide range of soils including wet soils and poor, dry, gravelly soils. They can withstand summer drought, once established. Give them regular watering during the first few growing seasons to establish a deep, extensive root system.

They are fast-growing trees to 25-30 feet tall, spreading to 35 feet wide, but are easily kept to 15 feet tall with annual pruning.

Silk trees are considered to be messy trees. After they bloom they shed their flowers and then produce numerous seed pods that resemble wisteria pods. These will also fall in time. In autumn, the leaves fall at the first frost, having no fall color.

Each winter, Albizia trees should be pruned to remove dead limbs and to thin out the tree, removing poorly attached branches. Other than that, they require little care.

The summer beauty and versatility in size of the silk tree makes it a good choice for many landscape situations.

Trees for Summertime Livin’

August 4th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Roses have more flowers all summer long than any other shrub. Plant them in a sunny location and feed monthly for continuous blooms.
    • Cut back leggy annuals by half and feed to encourage a longer bloom season.
    • Impatiens and begonias will give you instant color in shady areas and continue blooming right through the fall.
    • Trim grapevines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and sweeten the grapes, if they are being shaded heavily by the foliage.
    • Divide Oriental poppies and bearded iris now. Add some bonemeal in the bottom of the hole when you replant them.

Trees for Summertime Livin’

Trees are never appreciated more than in the summer when their welcome shade provides a cool escape from the brutal sun. Trees provide many benefits including beauty, wildlife habitat and increased property values. They can also save you money by reducing your cooling bill in the summer and your heating bill in the winter.

Shade trees act as evaporative coolers in the summer time. A column of warm air rises up through the tree causing a slight breeze at ground level. This gentle air movement makes the shade under trees much more pleasant than the shade from buildings.

In the summer, heat enters the house through the walls and the roof, but the most heat enters directly through the windows. Heat builds up during the day and homes become the most uncomfortable in the late afternoon. Walls shaded by trees are generally 15 degrees cooler than unshaded walls on a hot summer day.

In our climate, winter heating is a much greater expense than summer cooling. Winter sunlight through south-facing windows can be an important factor in heating. Branches and twigs of bare trees block 20 to 50 percent of the sunlight passing through them.

For energy conservation, and creature comfort, trees should be planted where they will give the most shade to the house in the summer and the least shade in the winter. Trees planted to the west or southwest of the house are more effective than those planted on the south side.

Planting trees that grow to 25 feet or more toward the west side of the house will shade western windows during June, July and August. This will reduce air conditioning needs and increase comfort in non-air conditioned homes. Since the sun is at a lower angle in the wintertime, these trees won’t block warm, midday sun coming from the south.

Maple trees are some of our best shade trees. They provide shade and beauty with a minimum of messiness. ‘October Glory’ red maple grows to a height of 40–50′, providing dense shade. In late fall, the dark green leaves burst into shades of orange and red.

Catalpa is a large tree with showy white flowers that attract hummingbirds, followed by long bean-like seed pods. The large, heart-shaped leaves provide considerable shade from the canopy that grows to 40 ft. tall and 20 ft. wide.

If you have a moist location, nothing is more beautiful than a graceful weeping willow. It is a very fast-growing tree and can block an unpleasant view in just a few years. The soft green, pendulous branches are very beautiful.

Chinese pistache is one of our toughest trees. Though irregular in form when young, they grow into magnificent, round-headed trees that have outstanding fall color. It makes a beautiful shade tree at 30 feet tall and wide.

Sycamores are large, elegant trees that are tolerant of heat, drought and poor soil. With large, maple-shaped leaves and attractive peeling bark, they are a mainstay of the urban landscape. The variety ‘Bloodgood’ is disease resistant and will provide lots of summer shade.
Consider your shade tree needs now to enhance your outdoor living areas.

Premature Fruit Drop on Apple Trees

July 20th, 2017 by Jenny Watts
    • Check traps for codling moths and replace pheromones to continue catching damaging moths and reduce wormy apples.
    • Roses need water and fertilizer to keep blooming well throughout the summer. Watch for pests and treat immediately to prevent infestations.
    • Keep flowers and vegetables in peak condition by giving them a midsummer feeding with a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus than in nitrogen.
    • Dig gently to harvest potatoes, a few plants at a time, after foliage yellows and dries up.
    • Set out starts of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and lettuce for a fall harvest. Spray weekly with BT to keep the cabbage worms at bay.

Premature Fruit Drop on Apple Trees

Fruits of all kinds must be harvested on time, at the proper stage of maturity in order to maintain their nutrients, quality and freshness. Apple trees can be somewhat tricky to determine when they are at their peak and ready to harvest.

Often, at this time of year, apple trees begin dropping fruit prematurely. There are several reasons for this occurrence. Apples infested with codling moths will have rotten areas within the developing fruit and they will often drop from the tree. 

It is important to remove the fallen fruit (even small apples) as soon as they fall so that the codling moth larvae are removed from the vicinity of the tree. Failure to do so allows the codling moths population to increase and overwinter to reinfect your fruit next year. Codling moths will have at least two generations per year, so be sure to replenish your traps with fresh pheromone attractant now.

Another cause of premature drop is a heavy fruit set. Apples that grow in clusters will “push off” each other close to harvest time. Early season thinning to reduce fruits to one or two per cluster will help prevent this type of drop.

Certain varieties are more prone to early drop that others. Gravenstein, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Liberty and Red Delicious are the most prone to pre-harvest drop.

Watch for full-sized, healthy apples dropping to the ground. Healthy apples typically only begin falling when the fruit is ripe.

So how do you know if your apples are ripe and ready to pick? Apples ripen at various times depending on the variety. Gravensteins ripen in August but Granny Smiths won’t be ready until November. A given variety will ripen earlier or later in different climates. It is best to keep a record for your own trees as they will ripen at pretty much the same time each year.

If the season is right and the apples are full-sized, cut an apple open and check the color of the seeds. The seeds of apples generally turn dark brown when they are nearing maturity.

When an apple is ripe and ready to pick, you can lift it off the tree without pulling hard or twisting. Just lift the apple upward and it should come loose from the tree.

If you think the fruit is ripe, do a taste test. The fruit should be crisp, juicy and full flavored with the tartness of nearly ripe fruit gone.

Then it is time to harvest your fruit or to call the Gleaners to let them do it for you.

For storage apples, it’s best to pick the fruit a little early. The riper the apple is when it’s picked, the quicker it will go bad in storage.

Always handle apples carefully to avoid bruising them. Apples with even small bruises will not store well. Only perfect apples should be used for long-term storage. The others will be good for fresh eating, pies, cobblers and applesauce.

Enjoy your bountiful apple harvest this year.