Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tree Dreaming Deep

Every year at this time I start plotting what trees to buy in the up coming season. On this old property, I lose trees every year. Some due to storm damage, some due to the creeping wet part of the property, and some due to disease and old age. I hope to keep ahead of it all and plant more than I lose each year.

Trees constitute at least half, sometimes more, of my annual budget for plant material. They are a commitment both financial and physical. To plant trees right you need time, the right amendments, and a strong back. I am excited about this Acer griseum, Paperbark Maple, we put in last year. Look at that gorgeous bark! This will replace a weeping birch that succumbed to the bronze birch borer. No wonder the chickadees have loved the birch, it provided another source of food while they line up to wait for the feeder! For a few years it was in decline but was so spectacular by the front door that we kept it for winter interest. But now it comes down in huge chunks with every storm, so we will have to take it down this spring. This maple will be similarly stunning in winter out the bay window!


I have had successes and failures. That is part of the game. I planted five Betula Nigra, River Birch, in our lower field 5 years ago and it is amazing how well they are doing. From our bedroom window the trunks now are turning white and are a great contrast against the hemlock forest behind them.

Not doing well are the cherry and peach trees I planted in the herb garden. The cherry, Prunus 'Lapin', attracts every Japanese beetle from miles around! I have never had a leaf after July, much less a cherry! The peach, Prunus 'Reliance', had one spectacular year with 100's of peaches. This was after a November dousing of Copper Sulfate for the rust. They ripened and fell before I could buy containers to freeze them!  But then the winds of last winter seem to have killed the north east side and half of it didn't leaf out. That is two dead or dying trees out of four in the garden. Something has to change!

My solution is more crabapples! They are hardy, disease resistant, and have two season interest. There are so many varieties that you could collect a few every year.  Here are my top choices: 
Here is Malus sargentii 'Tina' a wonderful small dwarf crabapple that has pink/cream buds that turn white.It's maximum height is 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide, making it nice for this small intimate space.

Malus 'Prairifire' I prune it back to create a dense shape every February and I can tell this tree will be spectacular in a few years. Super disease resistant, gorgeous dark pink flowers, it is tough enough for my harsh micro climate. I bought another one for the front of the house.
My favorite information chart is this one from J. Frank Schmidt + Son Co. to compare and contrast attributes!

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On the wish list is Malus sutyzam 'Sugar Tyme', a white blooming crab with pink buds, it gets to be 18 ft high and 15 across. I think it will catch up fast to the other two and will replace the peach. The peach will move to a more sheltered area.

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Then to replace the cherry will be perhaps Malus 'Coralcole', the Coralburst crabapple. This will grow 15 ft high and 15 ft wide and will be another pink flower with bronze type leaves. People exclaim that this is a show stopper that has a profusion of flowers. The cherry will move far away, so as to attract the hoards to the end of the property!

Then I am giving consideration to some interesting maples and perhaps a sugar maple to replace the 150 year old sugar maple that is in it's last years after being struck by lightening.  Then to look at costs, varieties, and sizes available from local nurseries. This information will help make the final choices.

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