for tough native trees to dot the landscape
By Cynthia Schuster-Eakin
Published Nov. 15, 2006
must be tons of leaves that about now are covering the tree lawns
all around. Raking them is an onerous job. In spring, we canít wait
for the trees to show the first flush of green and now, as these
same leaves have completed their life cycle, we are cursing them
for our aching backs.
A couple of
times I have been asked: What is a deciduous tree? It is a tree
that looses all its leaves every year and deposits them on the ground
for us to pick up.
This year we
bemoan the fact that we were cheated out of our usual extravagant
colors and never had an Indian summer. We Ohioans like to brag about
our amazing and delightful autumn weather. Yes, we had a decent
day here and there, but could not string them together to make them
It made me think
of what the tough trees are for our unpredictable growing seasons.
Consider the fact that trees do not have an easy life. It is either
too hot or we suffer a damaging ice storm that impacts flowering.
We know all about draught conditions that do not facilitate healthy
growth. Trees become friends in our gardens and when one dies, we
are very sad. An established specimen is not easily uprooted and
replaced with one of a similar size, color and maturity.
Trees are not
impervious to insects and diseases. Some of us remember the Dutch
Elm disease that totally obliterated the elm tree.
We also have
to consider the somewhat smaller properties where a good tree should
not overpower the landscape. For instance, the catalpa tree is very
hardy and less prone to diseases, but can easily overpower a small
There are some
beautifully shaped trees that are messy and so should be avoided.
The honey locust is as fruitful as a rabbit and shoveling the messy
pods is not fun. The sycamore belongs in the same category and is
a big mess producer in spring, summer and fall. But we are hesitant
to take down a mature tree and replace it with a more suitable species.
One of my favorites
on the tough native tree list is the river birch. The graceful branches
emerge from its incredible stems. The bark has to be its strong
suit. When trees are bare, the bark provides some winter interest
and brings life to an otherwise bare landscape.
If you are considering
a large and fragrant tree, consider the sassafras. It is a native
tree with few pest problems. The Indians were fond of this tree
and brewed a tea from its fragrant leaves. The fall colors are striking,
ranging from bright yellow, orange, red and purple.
The third tree
on my list of favorites is the American smoketree. Although belonging
to the same genus, this one is not to be confused with the more
commonly planted Eurasian smokebush. This native tree has immense
fall color interest with an alligator skin bark. As a small to medium
tree, it is versatile for any type of desired landscaping.
There are still
some garden chores that should be tended to, even in November. Remember,
it is not to late to get your spring bulbs in before the ground
freezes. One year I planted some in January and they bloomed in
spring without a problem. Please donít tell me, in the check-out
lane at the grocery store, that you could not get your bulbs in.
There is no other way to get spring color than to entrust the bulbs
to the earth now.
Time to lime.
Fall also is a good time to apply lime to your lawn. The rain and
snow will carry the lime down to the roots. This is a chore that
does not need to be repeated every year. The ground limestone or
dolomite should be applied at 20 to 50 pounds per 1,000 square feet.
The recommendation is that you go with the upper figure for heavy
If you are cultivating
a strawberry bed, better mulch it now. These are shallow-rooted
plants and can easily be heaved out of the ground by thawing and
freezing. Pine needles, hay or wood chips, applied in a 3-inch to
4-inch layer are good.
corms and dahlia tubers in a cool, dry place. It is a good time
to take up any perennials that have multiplied too lustily. In my
case, there are too many ladyís mantle. While I adore the chartreuse
flowers in the spring, I donít want them to take over the whole
flowerbed. A friend heard me tell of how I plan to rip them out
and suggested that she would like to adopt some and take them home.