The Black Locust is the main stay of the front yard. It’s a tree that looks more dead than alive most of the year. These are signs of poor soil. They grew in places with standing water, hard compacted clay and will grow with little light. They tend to cluster, partially become they were others won’t. They do actually look good in May because they bloom for a few days or until it rains. The blooms are very fragile.
The Peony is very common shrub. It had really nice blooms that look good for than a week. The plant then proceeds to fall face first to the ground. This one is tied up. It has topped out at less than 3 feet tall.
This Bush Fushia is a tender plant. It’s more plant than shrub. It will get as large as six feet if I lived in Hawaii. Here in Ohio, it lives in the basement for half the year. The flowers are magnets for hummingbirds. They bloom all year. Like the hanging plant relative,this needs lot of water and fertilizer to stay happy.
The Rug Juniper is a spreading evergreen. It will never be more than six inches tall but can stretch out 3-5 feet in two directions. Usually they are long and about a foot wide. They make great accents to demarcate a bed from the yard. This one has a future job doing that!
The Florida Weigela is the most common Weigela. It had red flowers that may have stopped for an unknown reason. It’s battling day lilies for space in a bed. Although, it should be 5-6 feet tall and wide, this one is a bit small. At 2 feet tall, it’s been buried alive for the first couple months is good weather.
Every once in awhile we have misfits. These are either shrubs and trees that were mislabeled or hard to tell what they really are. A common problem is placement.
This is a Chestnut, specifically a Horseshoe Chestnut. Chestnuts are no longer native here, so we borrowed them from China. This tree was cut down over 12 years ago, then it grew out of trunk as a shrub. It has five branches each stretch about 6-10 feet in different directions. It should be a 20-35 foot round shrub with super shiny clusters of leaves.
This is an Arbor Day mystery tree. Labelled as a Golden Raintree, there are no yellow blooms and it’s the wrong shape! But other than that…. This resembles a lilac. It would have bloomed already if it was. It’s about eight feet tall and has nice glossy leaves. It’s good looking tree but unknown until it produces fruit or blooms.
The perfect place for a Robinson Crabapple in the front yard! It has drainage. It gets water. Even blooms! But it looks like a $5 tree, four years later. It has red leaves to provide interest. It’s six feet tall column. It could get 12 feet tall, but it’s in need of side branches
The little guy here is a Forsythia. It’s in deep shade and has dark leaves. The only issue it is buried under trees. Even in spring it doesn’t bloom much. They have soft yellow blooms that often are first things out in March. They make great hedges and will go eight feet high. Mostly they are trimmed much smaller.
Here we have an Arborvitae. This is a little different then most I see in catalogues. Although, it is considered a fast grower it took five years to grow from two feet to six feet. It has grown drastically last year. It is starting to separate a bit. The branches are spreading away from the center. In my climate, work large snowfall it requires a little help. This winter either it gets wrapped in burlap or cord to keep it shape. Otherwise, next year this could be more porcupine looking with spikes more prevalent.
Today’s theme is more on survivors. Most of these were either in a bad space or some other tree took away there own space.
The grey narrow leaves here belong to a Russian Olive. It doesn’t set fruit, but is very hard to kill. They tend to spread and take over areas. Some states have actually outlawed them. Well, no chance in it taking over. It lived quite peacefully but a Willow and Honeysuckle bush have converged in its space. It could have been eight foot wide and ten feet tall. Its only those dimensions at an angle. It grew to fit the open space.
This is a Red Bud Tree is a sign of spring. It’s trunk is lined with wine red buds. The flowers follow the branches not the tips of the branches. This is a native tree. It’s not as hardy as it seems a native should be. Portions of the tree are subject to dead fall. For no apparent reason it happens. Trimming get the dead off usually gives the tree a fresh growth spurt. This is a tree the Arbor Day people sell for 10 trees for $20. Full grown they rarely top 10 feet. Most likely will be 8 to 10 feet wide.
The European Birch is a baby. This is a tree from the clearance bin last year. It was put near some Pin Oak Trees. The Pin Oaks are out of control but provide shade to help this fellow establish itself. While it is a 5 foot stick, the future could bring a graceful arching tree 15 to 20 feet tall. Normally they will have multiple (2-4 trunks) that will stay kind of tan. Not as pretty as most birches, but fairly hardy with better tolerances of temperatures.
Winesap Apple Tree is another tree in the wrong get spot. It simply didn’t keep up with the Pin Oak in the last few years. As with most Apple trees having another kind of apple that blooms at the same time will give you a better harvest. The tree has never produced well because the pollinating tree has past on to the Orchard in the sky.
Scotch Pine Trees are evergreens. But allows have brown patches. They look half dead a lot of the year. They love wet ground. My swamplandis perfect for them. The tree in the middle is about 65 feet tall. It leans a bit. Several birds pick off the dead ends for nesting material.
Black Chokeberry is a shrub. It’s an escapee of incredible endurance. It’s everywhere. It’s a bird feeder for Cardinals, Robin’s, Blue Jays, Tufted Titmice, and Cedar Wax wings. Needless to say, the seeds are spread by them well. I kill off dozens of these a year. The will get 15 feet tall and as wide as they can. They fill the space given to them.
This is the back side of my property. This is a forest about 80-100 years in the making. The hardwood forest is typical for a swampy area of the Midwestern US. Hickory, maple, beech, and oak make a large canopy averaging about 60 feet above the ground. High above Coopers Hawks, Red Tail Hawks, Great Horned Owls, Barred Owls, and little Saw Whet Owls nest and patrol the woods. Where the woods open to savanna with high grass,and shrubs they hunt for song birds, mice, squirrels, and anything small enough to pick up.
The sounds come alive after about five minutes. My wild turkey lives back here with deer, red fox, coyotes, and probably a mink or two.
The lower left is a Son of a Beech! The big smooth grey barked trees are Beech trees. They are sixty to eight feet tall. They drop branches in storms easily. But the openings in the trunk are ideal for an owl to crave out a nest. Woodpeckers can try small one but often get kicked out. The Beech is softer wood and fast growing. Common for populating reclaimed farmland.
This is a Sassafras Tree. The leaves look like gloves. Some are right and left, a few are double thumbed. Another soft wood, but we have a surprise here. If you break a branch it smells like root beer! Well that’s what its used for in traditional formulas. This is another 50-60 foot tree. They are self seeding, but never take over. Smaller birds will nest in the branches, their large clustered leaves hide them well.
The Green Ash used to be the most common tree here. It spreads easily. The wood is great for firewood. It grows at a moderate rate so it can quickly establish a barrier or reclaim land. There’s only one problem. The Emerald Ash Borer from China is decimating them. We have lost a dozen full size trees in a year. It’s graceful compound leaves (they cluster on the tips of branches) wave in the breezes.
On the edge of the woods, the Swamp Willow with it’s silvery leaves is a super hardy tree. The original tree fell over in a storm. One of the branches fell into the ground sinking a couple feet in to the mud. Two week later, we have a tree that grow roots and two months later spread out new branches. The biggest this guy will get is about 30 feet tall, maybe this one will be 20 feet wide. It anchors the savanna, the transition from forest to field.
The Thicket Service berry is an awesome shrub for the savanna area too. It requires water. That’s about it. This baby is old. It has more than thirty stalks, or trunks making it a shrub. It will have red berries in August in years that frost doesn’t get the blooms! I’m not sure if I will have any for the birds.
Lost on the little green, but centered with two trunks is a Hawthorne Tree. These are Arbor Day Foundation Trees. That means a paid $10 for 10 trees and eight years later, this is the only living tree left! Hawthorne Trees have beautiful orange berries that Cedar Wax Wings, Cardinals, and Grossebeaks go crazy over. The tree also has three inch thorns! Apparently, the tree must be tasty…nature doesn’t add defenses without reason. On its own, and your suburb may use these on tree lawns, it’s 15 feet tall and a column build to it. Nice light colored leaves add detail to lsndscape.
We go small today. Most of these are ornamental shrubs and trees. Everyone can use small but interesting features.
Around the base of a Black Locust, I have planted two Flowering Almonds with a Barberry between them. The Flowing Almonds have tight, double blooms of pink in April. They are very airy. The appearance is a little unkept.
They need little and water. If given the space they will be five feet high and six feet wide. The space used here is way too small for them. I trim them a bit. But you can see the Barberry is getting squeezed out. The Barberry will only get two to three feet high, but can spread out to four feet. The red leaves make a great accent. You may get whitish/pinkish berries late in the year.
Thus is a Hydrangea. A Blue Hydrangea actually. The flowers are only blue if it’s fed acidic fertilizer, peat moss, or pine needles. It good soil they can grow four to six feet tall and wide, depending on variety. This one will only grow to three feet tall and wide. The heavy soil doesn’t help, but there are ways around this. I have dug a extra deep hole and buried a plastic pail upside down under it. The pail has holes drilled in it with gravel on top too. This displaces water from the roots, keeping plant happy!
The Prairie Fire Crabapple is a midsized tree. In spring, deep pink/red blooms cover this tree. It’s red/bronze leaves add interest. The Crabapples are the lowest maintenance tree you can get. Most are so easy that a little water is all you need to do. If you get one of these or another red leafed Crabapple, you need to trim out any green branches. If you don’t the tree will be overrun by green branches!
This little guy is new! Last fall I planted this Saucer Magnolia. It’s about a foot and a half tall. It will be ten by ten in about a decade. The growth rate is quick and it needs space. It has already doubled in size. This blooms early, often before other trees have leaves. This means plant me in the shade! You can leave it in light,but it prefers some shade during summer. The glossy leaves reflect ambient light into dark areas.
The Black Hills Spruce is the evergreen if you have time. This tree was two feet tall five years ago. We have a three and a half tall tree now. Once it gets about five feet it will grow faster. But that’s a couple years off. The color has a bit of blue grey to it. It’s low maintenance. Good near a house, meaning a good ten feet from foundation. If we live long enough, the little guy could make 80 feet in a century.
The most common ornamental tree in my area, the Weeping Cherry. It needs loose soil to thrive. It will live with drainage, but won’t bloom as well unless you add a lot of organic material and sand. April brings a carpet of white blooms across the top. Really looks like a giant umbrella in white.
The big world is a patchwork of tiny places. Small area didn’t mean little. These trees are in a space is about the length of a house.
The black gum, sometimes called Tupelo, is a mid size tree. It’s slow grower at first but soft gentle, bright green leaves are nice addition to partial Sun place in the yard. In fall, this beauty becomes a red flame. It turns early and loses leaves after a month but what a month.
Eastern Red Cedar is an easy evergreen for any landscape. They like to have dry soil when first planted but after that they can take almost anything. They can become 25 feet tall and spread about six feet across. They provide good hiding spots for nests. The year around green looks good even in winter. The needles don’t hold much snow, which also means little breakage.
Squeezed in here is a giant. The Shagbark Hickory will become 75 feet if it has the space. After about 15 years the bark starts to separate from the trunk. Giving it a apparently of falling off,at one time it was called shagging.
This guy here is about ten, maybe this year or next it will produce nuts. The nuts fall of on their own. You can float the bad ones out in a bucket of water. Worms inside trap air inside the nut causes them to float. Nuts can be roasted. The wood is used to smoke meat as well.
The Streamco Willows are a sure sign of water. They can be started by cutting a thin branch and sticking then in mud. About 50% will grow. These babies won’t fit in the picture. The largest is about 80 feet tall. It took about 3 year to get over 30 feet. Another 3 and it’s this big. I chose to keep them together to build a wind barrier. They have an upright pattern, meaning they branch up not out. Even when they have lost their leaves, they can be thick enough to block wind. Staggering them would be better for this.
The Sand Cheery is a small shrub. It’s nice red leaves should fill out well. If you plant it in the Sun. In half shade, it looks a lot like this. Small at 2 1/2 feet but could reach about four feet high and wide in more light. There are little white flowers in May. It would like dry ground but can live with some water.
Although the Honeysuckle was shown in last post, thus is the whole thing. Thus monster is 9 feet wide and about 7 feet tall. You should be able to see red and orange berries. The birds love these things. The seeds get eaten and deposited near a nice shady area. You will never have one. Nor will you probably have to buy one, those nice birds. Great for places where nothing else will grow!
A popular shrub is the Wine and Rose’s Wegielia. It had red leaves and red blooms. The blooms will open shortly. A great choice because it’s not picky. Give it some water and dirt and it’ll grow. They are a little chaotic, this guy had been trimmed to the shape. You can try to increase your plants by sticking the cuttings into mud. I have keep fall cutting alive over the winter to create more of them. Cutting are best trimmed to about two feet long and half of the length into the ground.
The Silver Maple is super common in the Midwest. It’s cheap and easy to grow. Home builders like to throw these in the front yard or a couple out back. They grow quickly to. This is about fifty feet tall and took about 10 years to get there. They can get rather large if nothing else is near by. Their radios growth means they can lose large branches in storms. So they aren’t ideal once you own the home a builder planted one in a small front yard. But with some space they are great shade tree.
Putting all these together and it’ll look like this. Biodiversity in action!
This is your atmosphere on Carbon Dioxide. We need more trees. So here are a few more from the yard. Look at it as a carbon bank, taking Carbon Dioxide out and replacing it with Oxygen. Come on! How much difference can it really make? Each new tree can remove 10 pounds of Carbon Dioxide in first year. Ten years in that tree is grabbing 48 pounds! Every new acre removes 2.5 tons of the greenhouse gas! Ten years later, doing the math 12 tons gone. Now if we keep the trees we have too. We save ourselves. Ok maybe not.
Sides of your property can provide much need shelter for birds. Where big trees don’t fit, we enter a mix of shrubs and ornamental trees. At the bottom, a Bush Honeysuckle branch curls from underneath. On its own the Bush Honeysuckle woukd be ten feet with a ten feet spread. The glossy leaves of the Common Dogwood actually lighten up a dark space. The thin branches provide nest building platforms for songbirds. At about ten feet tall, it’s blooms get lost sometimes. Below is a better view.
The Silky Dogwood shares the leaf pattern buy it much else with its more popular cousin. It’s flowers hold a cluster of eight to twelve tiny flowers with a flat top. It’s has many trunks, so spread underground called stolons to make addition plants. It to provides plenty of shelter for birds.
The most common tree in North America, and it still needs an introduction! Above is the Quaking Aspen, at five years old it’s growth rate is crazy. It also has a problem keeping it’s branches at times. They are great shade trees, but you are looking at fifty feet of tree in five years. Don’t go near the house with one of these things! (Somewhere a person reading this has a Blue Spruce up against their house that did the same thing at a slower rate ). While after a good storm you maybe picking up leaves, during the breezes you’ll hear the leaves quaking. Truly an awesome sound. If you land is wooded, sometimes they get help being planted like this one was. I guessing a squirrel was involved, they have planted many oak trees too!
Speaking of oaks, the mighty Pin Oak, swampland’s friend! If you have wet soil where nothing grows….I have a tree for you. It needs only to be ignored, maybe lower branches cut if you mow around it. Other than that, killing one is very difficult. This baby is at least 13 years old. It’s about 35 feet tall. There are lots of places for critters to hide. Birds and squirrel in the branches. Stray cat, racoons, and moles underneath. It will turn brown in fall and those leaves will stay on the tree most of the winter.
Above is a close up of th e leaves. The form is shape and deep cut between points on the leaf. Opposed to the other one below, the Swamp White Oak. Similar build and needs as the Pin Oak. This is the only easily visible one in my yard and it’s mixed in a row of trees and doesn’t show its ture shape. It would like the Pin Oak above, little narrower.
The world is being warmer. The easiest fix more trees to reduce Carbon Dioxide. It won’t solve everything but it’ll look good helping out. So here is the start of biodiversity suburban style.
The Blue Spruce is a very common tree in North America. It requires light and some drainage to keep roots from sitting in water. They grow fast about a foot per year once they are four feet tall. They may start slow if they are a hybrid. The one above is of the variety “So Cool” Blue Spruce. Every plant or tree may have varieties that offer better color, slower growth, faster growth, different shaping. Check the tag on the tree. It will tell you everything it needs and the size and shape.
Tree number two, the River Birch. They come in the three to five foot size normally. Little green leaves will shake in the wind creating a great relaxing sound. This guy is three years in the ground and about twelve feet tall. It’ll get to about twenty feet tall when full grown. Unlike the Blue Spruce, it likes wet soil. It can take standing water for a month or so. The bark will peel and expose a cinnamon color underneath a tan paper bark. Best part you can find these guys under $20!
Another water lover, the Bald Cyprus. It’s unique in another way. It is related to evergreens but it turns burnt orange in the fall, then looses is needles under early spring. Below is the color changing, as the other trees change it holds a nice color longer.
The above is a favorite of mine. It’s called a Franklin Tree. Named for Benjamin Franklin as he found it growing in a woods in Pennsylvania. It has these filament petals for its blooms. It’s graceful and birds love it. It’s doesn’t produce any fruit. The Franklin Tree is a slow grower, planted at three feet tall street ten years is about fifteen feet tall
The Variegated Wegielia is a nice shrub growing to about six feet tall and six feet wide. Difference between trees and shrubs, shrubs have multiple trunks that tend to spread. This guy will bloom all summer. It requires maintenance only if you want to keep it round or a certain height. Birds like the Cardinal, will use this for nesting because of its tight cluster of branches. Best part is if you want another one all that’s required is bury a lower branch in dirt. Six weeks or so later it will develop roots and can be cut from the parent.