Plant a Tree for Arbor Day

Sunday, March 8th, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • Mouth-watering strawberries should be planted now for delicious berries this summer. Plant them in a sunny, well-drained bed.
    • Potatoes can be planted any time now. Choose from red, white, yellow and blue varieties.
    • Prune Hydrangeas now by removing old flower heads down to the first new leaves. Don’t prune stems which have no old flowers, and they will bloom first this summer.
    • Spring vegetables love cool, moist weather and don’t mind a little frost. Set out lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, spinach and Swiss chard starts now.
    • Plant sweet peas for bouquets of delightful blooms.

Celebrate Trees!

Luther Burbank, California’s famed horticulturist, was a legendary figure in his own time. Born in Massachusetts, on March 7, 1849, he made his home in Santa Rosa for more than fifty years and it was here that he conducted many plant breeding experiments that brought him worldwide fame. His life’s labor produced hundreds of plants and trees that have contributed to the natural splendor and food production in our state.

In 1909, seventeen years before he died, the state legislature designated Burbank’s birthday, March 7, as Arbor Day in California. And every year since then, school children and others have celebrated the event by planting trees.

The idea of an Arbor Day began in Nebraska in 1872, when J. Sterling Morton convinced the Nebraska state board of agriculture to set a day for tree planting and name it Arbor Day. Since then, most states have declared an Arbor Day which is appropriate to their climate. National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April.

The value of trees can hardly be overstated. Trees solve problems by cooling the house in the summer, reducing the force of the prevailing winds, screening out undesirable sights and reducing noise. They improve water and air quality, provide habitats for animals and plant life and prevent flooding and erosion. In addition, trees have many aesthetic advantages offering pleasant fragrances, beautiful colors that change with the seasons, fruit in abundance, and even a place to hang a swing.

Shade from trees can reduce room temperatures in poorly insulated houses by as much as 20 degrees in summer. To be most effective, trees should be planted on the west and southwest sides of the house to block the hot rays of the western sun. If you plant a deciduous tree which will lose its leaves in the fall, it will let in light in the winter months when it is most desired.

Trees and large shrubs make excellent windbreaks if they are properly chosen and pruned to do the job. The most effective and safest way of planting a windbreak is to combine trees and shrubs over a considerable distance to create a wedge which lifts the wind up and over the tallest trees. Bushy shrubs are planted on the windward side and among the trees with the tallest trees nearest the house. Such a wind break will greatly reduce the wind-chill factor and thereby reduce the cost of heating buildings.

Trees also make the most attractive screen between you and the neighbors, whether they are just next door, or 20 acres away. They can block bothersome glare from artificial lights and make your home environment more to your liking.

For beautiful spring flowers, consider a beautiful weeping flowering cherry with double pink flowers, Krauter Vesuvius flowering plum with its red leaves and light pink flowers or one of the flowering crabapples with flowers ranging from white to pink, red or purplish-red.

October Glory Maple with its brilliant fall color makes an excellent, tall shade tree. Purple Robe Locust offers dark pink flowers in spring and a fast-growing, full tree for shade in summer. Fruitless Mulberry and Raywood Ash are also fast-growing trees for summer shade, and flowering pear trees are beautiful in spring, summer and fall.

For beauty and comfort, celebrate this Arbor Day by planting a tree!

Colorful Trees for Fall

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • Fragrant hyacinths make a colorful display in a garden bed, or can be grown in pots. They come in red, pink, blue and white and can be planted now.
    • Naked lady amaryllis have lovely, fragrant pink flowers that bloom in late summer with little or no care. Plant the bulbs, available at local nurseries, now.
    • Protect the pond from the worst of the leaf fall with a fine-mesh net over the surface of the pond.
    • Ornamental kale makes a dramatic planting in flower beds over the winter.
    • Plant lawns now to have them ready for next summer enjoyment. Ask at your nursery for the best grass seed for your situation.

Enjoy the beauty of fall with colorful trees

The cold nights of fall bring beautiful colors to the leaves of deciduous trees. Liquidambars, maples, Chinese pistache, Raywood ash, European white birch, dogwoods and flowering pear trees brighten the landscape with their colorful leaves. Now is a good time to choose trees that have fall color, and fall is an excellent time to plant trees of any type.

When choosing a tree, it is important to decide just how large a tree you want. Width is easy to measure and for height, figure that a building is about 10 feet tall per story, plus attic height. So a one-story house may be 15 to 20 feet tall, and a two-story house 25 to 30 feet tall. Most trees are at least 30 feet tall and some grow to 60 feet or more, providing good shade over the roof for summer cooling.

Liquidambar and European white birch are both tall, slender trees. White birch trees grow to 45 feet tall with a spread of 30 feet. They turn bright yellow in the fall. Their white bark is particularly attractive in winter.

Liquidambar trees grow to 60 feet tall with a narrow pyramidal form. Their fall colors range from yellow, peach and orange to flaming red and burgundy. They are tall, stately trees which make attractive street trees where overhead wires are not a problem.

Chinese pistache is a round-headed tree that turns a fiery ball of red, orange and green in autumn. It is a very eye-catching tree. It grows to 35 feet tall and 25 feet wide. Raywood ash trees are fast-growing with fine-textured foliage that makes a dense, rounded crown. They grow to 35 feet with a 25-foot spread and turn a beautiful reddish-purple color in fall.

Red maple trees have striking fall color, grow to 40 or 50 feet tall, and make wonderful shade trees. Big leaf maple is native in this area growing along stream banks to 60 feet tall. Its bright yellow leaves in fall glow like candles among the evergreens. Japanese maples turn brilliant reds and yellows in the fall, lighting up the yard.

The flowering pear trees are known for their beautiful white spring blossoms as well as their colorful fall foliage. They grow 35 to 40 feet tall with a 25-foot spread, and turn red and gold late in the fall season, holding their colorful leaves most of the winter.

Dogwood trees are beautiful small trees growing 20 feet tall and wide. In spring, white, pink or red blossoms cover the tree and in fall their round leaves turn beautiful shades of red. Japanese maples are another small tree with delicate green or red leaves throughout the summer which turn a bright scarlet in the fall.

Choose trees now for fall beauty in your yard.

Our Valuable Trees

Friday, September 28th, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • Replace tired petunias with bright pansies, snapdragons, calendulas and stock for garden color this fall and winter.
    • Dogwood, walnut, birch and maple trees can be pruned now because they won’t bleed sap at this time of year.
    • Plant cover crops in areas of the garden that have finished producing for the summer. Crimson clover and fava beans will grow over the winter and enrich the soil for next year.
    • It’s time to divide overgrown perennials that bloomed in the spring or early summer. It’s also a good time to choose and plant some new varieties.
    • Fall is for planting. Make the most of the nice fall weather and plant trees, shrubs, ground covers and bulbs now during the fall planting season.

Our Valuable Trees

Trees are living umbrellas that protect us from the elements, clean the air and water, and nurture a sense of well-being.

Trees provide air quality benefits in several ways. One of the most important ways is by releasing oxygen into the air as a byproduct of photosynthesis. Annual oxygen production varies depending on the type of tree, as well as its size, health and location.  

A healthy 30-foot-tall tree produces about 260 pounds of oxygen annually. A typical person consumes 386 pounds of oxygen per year. So two medium-sized, healthy trees can supply the oxygen required for a single person.

Trees also remove pollutants from the air. Sulfur dioxide is absorbed through the leaves, and transferred down through the tree into the roots and into the soil.

Human activities, primarily fossil-fuel consumption, are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, resulting in gradual temperature increases.  The effects of this global warming are a serious concern. Planting more trees is a simple but effective way to help hold back global warming.

Trees are important storage sites for carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. They store carbon dioxide in their trunks, branches, leaves and roots as they grow. In addition, trees near buildings can reduce the need for heating and air conditioning, thereby reducing emissions from electric power plants.

One study found that Sacramento’s urban forest of six million trees removes approximately 335 thousand tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide annually. City trees work tirelessly to improve human health and quality of life.

The benefits of trees are directly related to their size. Larger trees provide greater benefits than small ones. Select trees that will fit the space available, because healthy and vigorous trees are the most effective.

Fall is an excellent time to plant trees. While the soil is still warm, roots will grow out into the native soil. A tree planted in the fall will be better established and grow larger and faster next summer than the same tree planted next spring. 

By planting the right tree in the right place, and providing proper long-term care, you will help the environment and be rewarded with comfort and fresh air to breathe.