A Tough Nut to Crack

By on Nov 23, 2011 in Trees |

Everyone loves a good comeback story. The aging athlete returning to peak form in the championship game, the candidate counted out surges ahead on election night or the rock band you loved 20 years ago suddenly is in vogue again. The humble chestnut is enjoying that same resurgence lately and they’re not just for roasting anymore. American chestnut trees once covered our forests until a fungal disease wiped out almost all of them. Today many are familiar with the chestnuts roasting Christmas song but few roast or make them part of their holiday diet. The resurgence of the tree and the interest in the nuts have spurred alternate uses including holiday cheer. I noticed Michigan chestnuts are used in a Jolly Pumpkin Stone Special Holiday Ale along with white sage from California and Norwegian Juniper berries. Another Michigan produced ale uses chestnuts in a gluten free brew....

Early Fall Color

By on Sep 22, 2011 in Trees |

Are there some trees turning color early in your neighborhood? You can spot the trees where fall has come early dotting yards along the roadway. If you have one of those trees you may not have an extroverted harbinger of a new season. The tree might be in trouble. Early frosts or cold weather does not necessarily speed up the change in color. Sunny days and cold nights does improve the reds in our fall landscape. But a tree that turns color earlier than the rest and begins to thin it’s foliage early could be a clear sign the tree is under stress. Many times it is an indication of decline, soil compaction or even girdling roots slowly choking the tree to death. If the weather has been dry irrigate from the trunk out to the drip line. Aerate the soil under the tree and then feed the tree when the leaves fall off this fall. Even though the tree isn’t growing and air...

Save your Ash

By on Jun 24, 2011 in Trees |

We’ve all heard news stories since 2002 about Emerald Ash Borer. For many the adage “seeing is believing” applies now that numerous trees are visibly declining or dead in their neighborhood. The native tree Ash or Fraxinus was liberally planted along streets, lawn areas, golf courses, parks and commercial areas because of it’s adaptability. With tall majestic shade it lined streets and is one of the yellow leaved harbingers of fall with early fall color. The destructive uninvited non-native insect Emerald Ash Borer has been busy and its dirty work is now becoming evident to all. Native Ash trees have little to no resistance to EAB and the evidence is now easy to see. Seeing is believing and West Michigan neighborhoods are now visibly dotted with dead and dying trees. It tends to be quite dramatic when the trees line a street in the public right of ways. If your...

Needlecast

By on Apr 29, 2011 in Trees |

Needlecast is not a new on-line broadcast of sarcastic comedians……..it is a fungus that might be affecting your evergreen trees. The fungus Rhizosphaera Needlecast causes browning and premature needle drop on Spruce and Pines. Browning of the needles is apparent in early spring. Here is a picture of Needlecast sent to me from my friend Brian McKenzie at Bartlett Tree Experts. Often diagnosed as “winter damage” the problem tends to appear first on lower branches. I’m convinced this is because the lower branches are the wettest and most shaded part of the evergreen tree. Fruiting spores are spread by spring rain to other needles including those that are newly formed. Stressed trees that are not properly cared for (feeding and water) are most susceptible. Remove infected limbs and fallen needles in early spring. Overstory trees in close proximity to these...

Lives of the Trees

By on Dec 9, 2010 in Trees |

Here’s some recommended reading while we endure the cold of winter. ‘Lives of the Trees…An Uncommon History’ by Diana Wells. This book is perfect for “tree huggers” like me……entertaining and not too technical….without going out on a “limb” it’s exactly that…..entertaining. On my radio sh0w we’ll be talking to Diana touching on just a few of the many highlights in the book peppered with a sense of “humus”. For example……….. Botanically Bananas aren’t trees but rather giant herbs. Wisemen are generally found under Banana trees….or at least eating them. In the early twentieth century the main comedian was called “the top banana” owing to the rubber bat resembling a banana with which he would playfully hit other comedians. Hazelnuts or Filberts comes from...

Shiver Me Timbers!

By on Oct 28, 2010 in Trees |

Recent high winds in the midwest cleared a lot of fall leaves out of the landscape and  absolved some people from raking duties. I’m going to have to go out and collect some leaves to use for my composting efforts and vegetable garden because they all blew away to some fortunate beneficiary of the blustery weather. Aside from the transfer of foliage to another zip code by the high winds, wind storms can do a lot of damage to trees. Shiver me timbers! In storm tossed seas as the boat would rock the supports and the masts would creak, move and shake you can picture the wooden peg leg pirates to exclaim “Shiver me Timbers! With the timber in our landscapes the damage can reveal the advanced aging of some trees in a condition called “shade tree decline”. Sometimes the decline isn’t evident until a weather event like a wind storm or heavy wet snow. In other...