Gratitude for Trees

In this month of thankfulness we often take for granted the trees surrounding us. As the final colorful leaves drift to earth and our attention turns towards boughs of holiday evergreen, I was reflecting on how trees provide color, shade, oxygen, a home for wildlife, beauty, food, fuel and mark the seasons of our lives. Trees also teach us valuable lessons of diversity and perseverance and value.
Every year it seems we experience a storm event where trees in our neighborhoods remind us of their presence succumbing to a wind or ice event and causing damage. It is a natural physical reminder of “Entropy” in our lives. The definition of Entropy…..a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. We all deal with entropy in our lives, but prefer to ignore decline or deterioration. We work to move forward because you are either moving forward or backwards, not much stays the same and certainly not for long. When it comes to entropy we grow when we:
1) Recognize it as reality.
2) Develop the skill to identify it and resist apathy and complacency.
3) Understand entropy applies not only to the physical but mental too…our attitudes and relationships.

 

Example of tree "wind throw" and up rooted tree
Example of tree “wind throw” and up rooted treeapplies not only to the physical but mental too…our attitudes and relationships.

4) Most importantly, developing a clear understanding of what you can manage. Entropy dictates the need to manage what and how much we can manage in our realm.
This past year a major wind event felled a number of trees in our neighborhoods. When they fell it was a good reminder of necessary maintenance, planning and development to battle the ever present effects of entropy. For example, to have strong trunks, tree trunks should be tapered from top to bottom. Trees develop tapered trunks from two major events in their lives: trunks swaying back and forth in the wind and the presence of branches with leaves all along the trunk. These lessons are learned early in the life of a tree and its development. Without it they won’t be able to support the canopy of the tree when the storms of life arrive. It is just like humans, the most intelligent have the ability to hold two opposing views in their mind and still be able to function.
The wind event reminded us of the importance of a tree’s root collar. It is the area where the roots join the main stem or trunk. At the base of the tree there is a “flare” leading to the major roots.

This tree completely uprooted in the storm. Notice the taper and root collar were strong but the lateral roots were unable to support the tree
This tree completely uprooted in the storm. Notice the taper and root collar were strong but the lateral roots were unable to support the tree

The root collar is part of the tree’s trunk. Unlike roots, the trunk is not specialized to resist constant soil moisture. If the tree is planted originally too deep or has soil or mulch mounded against the root collar and bark that is not accustomed to being wet, we will eventually see decline and ultimately failure of the tree at some point. Root collar from the start makes a difference. Strong root collars still experienced a condition called wind throw because support from the lateral roots was diminished due to surrounding driveways, walks, streets or other factors diminishing a stable lateral root system. We saw the entire tree roots and all lift out of the ground and topple over.

Finally most people do not think of pruning. “Pruning” can be a good thing in our personal lives. A setback can help us re-evaluate and reset to move forward. A tree, even a large established tree benefits from pruning. Some of the trees that went over in the storm had been neglected for years. Pruning of trees is a safety issue, a tree health issue and finally is done for aesthetics. Winter is a great time for pruning of deciduous trees and strengthens and improves them for future growth.

Lessons can be learned from the storms of life. May the forest be with you.

 

Boogie Woogie Aphid

It’s that time of year again….time when people stop to see me completely freaked out by a “dancing snowflakes on their tree!” Well Happy Holidays and relax. The “snowflakes” are an insect called Beech Blight Aphid or affectionately known as the Boogie Woogie Aphid.

Beech blight aphids dancing on a twig
Beech blight aphids dancing on a twig

You can blast them with jets of water late in the season or spray with an insect control however on a large Beech tree for many this is not practical. They will not kill the tree but can weaken the tree over time….generally we just see some branch loss here and there. Their calling card is sooty mold fungi from their excretions called honeydew that turns tar black in color.

Their dance will cause some branch distortion and possibly some branch loss but you are not going to lose your tree. As with any tree good maintenance and care (including feeding and pruning) will keep the tree healthy and able to withstand nuisances like the Boogie Woogie Aphid.

May the Forest be with you

Trees are a part of our lives, we often pass them by without notice, a familiar forgotten part of our daily surroundings. I was reflecting on how trees provide color, shade, oxygen, a home for wildlife, beauty, food, fuel and mark the seasons of our lives. Trees also teach us valuable lessons of diversity and perseverance and value.
Every year it seems we experience a storm event where trees in our neighborhoods remind us of their presence succumbing to a wind or ice event and causing damage. It is a natural physical reminder of “Entropy” in our lives. The definition of Entropy…..a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. We all deal with entropy in our lives, but prefer to ignore decline or deterioration. We work to move forward because you are either moving forward or backwards, not much stays the same and certainly not for long. When it comes to entropy we grow when we:
1) Recognize it as reality.
2) Develop the skill to identify it and resist apathy and complacency.
3) Understand entropy applies not only to the physical but mental too…our attitudes and relationships.
4) Most importantly, developing a clear understanding of what you can manage. Entropy dictates the need to manage what and how much we can manage in our realm.
Recently a major wind event felled a number of trees in our neighborhoods. When they crashed it was a good reminder of necessary maintenance, planning and development to battle the ever present effects of entropy.

This tree completely uprooted in the storm. Notice the taper and root collar were strong but the lateral roots were unable to support the tree
This tree completely uprooted in the storm. Notice the taper and root collar were strong but the lateral roots were unable to support the tree

For example, to have strong trunks, tree trunks should be tapered from top to bottom. Trees develop tapered trunks from two major events in their lives: trunks swaying back and forth in the wind and the presence of branches with leaves all along the trunk. These lessons are learned early in the life of a tree and its development. Without it they won’t be able to support the canopy of the tree when the storms of life arrive. It is just like humans, the most intelligent have the ability to hold two opposing views in their mind and still be able to function.
The wind event reminded us of the importance of a tree’s root collar. It is the area where the roots join the main stem or trunk. At the base of the tree there is a “flare” leading to the major roots. The root collar is part of the tree’s trunk. Unlike roots, the trunk is not specialized to resist constant soil moisture. If the tree is planted originally too deep or has soil or mulch mounded against the root collar and bark that is not accustomed to being wet, we will eventually see decline and ultimately failure of the tree at some point. Root collar from the start makes a difference.

Example of the effects of Windthrow and failure of lateral roots
Example of the effects of Windthrow and failure of lateral roots
Root collar of the tree and base of the overall taper of the tree
Root collar of the tree and base of the overall taper of the tree

Strong root collars still experienced a condition called wind throw because support from the lateral roots was diminished due to surrounding driveways, walks, streets or other factors diminishing a stable lateral root system. We saw the entire tree roots and all lift out of the ground and topple over.

Finally most people do not think of pruning. “Pruning” can be a good thing in our personal lives. A setback can help us re-evaluate and reset to move forward. A tree, even a large established tree benefits from pruning. Some of the trees that went over in the storm had been neglected for years. Pruning of trees is a safety issue, a tree health issue and finally is done for aesthetics. Winter is a great time for pruning of deciduous trees and strengthens and improves them for future growth.

Lessons can be learned from the storms of life. May the forest be with you.

3)

Hurricane Sandy

2012 was quite a year for weather. One of the warmest years nationally on record. The winter that never was. An early unusual warm up in March followed by killing frosts in April. A hot and dry summer. Hurricane Sandy. Here is a picture my son Rick Jr. sent me. He is working on Long Island as part of the hurricane clean-up effort. He says this is typical of the home landscapes on Long Island with considerable tree damage and destruction.

Long Island damage

A “Tree”-freshing Perspective

It’s one thing to stand on the ground and gaze up at a giant Tulip Poplar. It’s another thing to jump off one. A massive Liriodendron tulipifera provides an exhilarating platform as you “leaf” your feet and zip through a forest canopy of Southern Magnolia, Hemlock, Pine and Sourwood trees. Fly above a Hackberry tree, a Fraser Fir and zip past a Buckeye tree. For someone who appreciates trees I enjoyed my zip line adventure….it gives you a “tree”-freshing perspective of their beauty and stature.

The view before jumping out of a Tulip Poplar and down a thousand foot zip line
Ready to go
Trust your equipment…….better double check it…..
A steady hand
At speeds of 40 miles an hour you want to make sure to brake or you’ll get quite personal with a tree
Walking the plank to the next tree
A birds eye view moving from tree to tree
Stepping up notched branches to get to the next platform
Good thing I’m high above the forest floor….don’t want to brush against any Poison Ivy
Go Green