Two days ago I stopped by the local gas station/grocery store compound around sunrise to replenish my truck’s fuel tank. As I drove on the service road passing the commercial property I felt something strange tugging at my peripheral vision, like large chocolate chips dotting the edge of my field of view. I took my eyes off the road for a moment, and sure enough, seemingly overnight the landscape had changed. It was as if a very large community of rodents had decided to move in and dig burrows in the landscape, leaving all the soil in regular mounds, perfectly spaced on the lawn. The next moment I saw that each mound had a tree growing out of it. Then the colors of breaking dawn also brought the light of knowledge to me as I realized “It’s spring, and the mulch mounders are at it again”.
I want to take a moment to share a couple exciting things with you that are happening at Russell Tree Experts this spring. As of April 1, 2019, I am proud to be the new Production Manager of Russell Tree Experts. I now will be working with clients to schedule jobs, and working with all of our crews to ensure an efficient, safe, educational, fun and productive work environment. I look forward to continuing to answer your questions and hearing your feedback…
First and most importantly, I am not an attorney. What I am is a concerned business owner who has an interest in the law. Having recently read Arboriculture and the Law co-authored by Victor D. Merullo and Michael J. Valentine, I am inclined to share my findings in hopes of answering a few common questions we receive every year dealing with liability basics and the general risks associated with tree ownership.
Quite regularly I encounter trees that are being girdled by some sort of material, mostly guy wires or straps installed during planting, and subsequently forgotten. Sometimes there are other things that catch me by surprise. Usually these are things placed by people and never maintained. For this article I will start with the most common girdling issue and then mention some of the other items.
I happened across a Hawthorn downtown this past weekend who’s dormant canopy was alive with several dozen robins gorging themselves with its fruit. The birds seemed so happily preoccupied in their feast that they hardly took notice of me. When I arrived home a few minutes later, I noticed a Mockingbird cleaning out the last of the fruit on our holly outside the kitchen window. Later, when I shared these details with my wife, she informed that February is National Bird Feeding Month. Shame on me - I had no idea.
If you read my first installment on this relatively new disease, you will know the major difficulty of this pathogen (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) is that it infects otherwise healthy plants, and once it is at a site, removal and destruction of the infected plants is recommended, with no plant replacement for 3-5 years. This is because the spores remain in and on the soil to infect new plants. Existing asymptomatic plants were to be sprayed with fungicides to help prevent infection.
There is something special about the Winter season that helps me to slow down and notice the details in plants that I have overlooked before. If you had the fortune of catching José Fernández’s beautifully poetic article last week, you’ll understand my choice for brevity and pictures 😄.
Last year my wife and I spent a week or so vacationing with family, visiting Civil War Battlefields. The time was well spent, although sobering to be on the actual soil where so many people died, not that long ago, locked in a struggle that is difficult to understand, at least for me. This article is not about the Civil War, but about two things I found there that came back to me early this year and reminded me a little bit of why I do what I do. I would like to share a bit with you. I know you are busy… Will you stop and sit with me for a moment?
As Central Ohio moves further into winter, and the majority of deciduous trees have dropped their leaves, bark becomes increasingly visible. Bark is an interesting and important characteristic for trees and tree identification. It doesn’t take long for a novice naturalist to distinguish certain tree species based almost entirely on the bark of a specimen (Beech, Hackberry, River Birch, etc.). Upon further inspection of a tree’s bark an observer might notice organisms growing on the trees bark. A large variety of fungi can be seen on the bark of deadwood in trees and is usually associated with poor health of that particular branch or the entire tree. However, fungi are not the only organism to inhabit the bark of trees.
I wanted to dedicate this installment to Boxwood Blight, since this is a disease which has the potential to disrupt formal landscapes all across the state. The disease is fungal, and affects boxwood, especially the cultivated varieties ‘American’ and ‘Suffruticosa’. It is relatively recent in the United States, and was found in Ohio nurseries in 2011.
One of my favorite things about the fall season are the flowers of our native Witchhazel. If you look carefully you may still be fortunate enough to see them. On the cold grey days of fall, when other plants have lost their color, our native Witchhazel bursts into a show of yellow flowers brightening up the landscape around them.
Every fall I get calls from folks concerned about yellow needles on their evergreen trees. Often times I’m told that the trees are sick or that they appear to be dying from the inside out. There are some disease and insect problems that can cause yellowing and premature loss of needles in conifers but most often what people are reporting is just normal fall color.
I find it interesting that test procedures recommended in the medical field for human health have become part of the expected methodology, but not so much in arboriculture, for tree health. As arborists, we are trained that a soil test should be done prior to recommending fertilization, for example, but I don’t know of many outfits that make soil sampling a part of their modus operandi.
As we prepare for another season of Fall Tree Wellness, another important insect pest to take note of is the White Pine Weevil. White Pine Weevil is a damaging pest to a broad range of conifers, including White, Scotch, Red and Austrian pine as well as Colorado blue, Norway, and Serbian spruce. Douglas-fir can also be attacked.
As an arborist I have frequently been asked to “top” people’s trees. People want their trees topped for several reasons: safety concerns, vista pruning, aesthetics or height reduction. This request prompts a conversation about the practice of tree topping and the hazards associated with it.
Springtime is long gone, even though it only seems like a couple of months ago that we were coming out of winter. Suddenly, here we are, getting ready to enter the fall season, and true to form, during the past several weeks I have been seeing trees go into what we call “late season blues”.
During the growing season trees are making food through a process called photosynthesis. Isn’t that incredible - trees make their own food! (Magic.) The magic is due in part to the chlorophyll stored in each leaf, which absorbs energy from the sun to transform carbon dioxide and water into plant food (glucose) and oxygen.
Trees in our landscapes are not only beautiful but they provide countless benefits that can enrich our lives. These benefits extend well beyond backyard aesthetics and go on to include health implications, improved energy efficiency, and community-wide effects.
“Take a look”, I said to my concerned client, as we stood in the shade of her Magnolia tree. I had just handed her my hand lens, and I showed her how to get it close to her eye as she peered through it. I wanted her to see what was in my hand – a dead adult Magnolia scale insect.
We’ve received a high volume of calls over the last couple of weeks about “bagworms” in client’s trees. In central Ohio, true bagworm feeds predominantly on evergreens - arborvitae, spruce, and junipers although some deciduous trees can be hosts as well. Generally, this