“Society grows rich when old men plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.”
So says an Old Greek proverb. To me, this proverb is talking about hope. And overall, isn’t that what gardening is, in its essence? We plant and have hope plants will flower as the plant tag promises, bare fruit for our food to share with family and friends, hope for another day, and hope that someone after us will benefit from our labors.
As art forms go, garden design and gardens themselves are fleeting. It takes very little time for a well-tended and loved garden to become a tangle of weeds if neglected. And even if they are cared for, without the guidance of the original gardener, the voice can be lost because after all, gardens are dynamic. Trees, like stone, are more permanent features in the garden. Trees live longer than most other plants and therefore contribute to the span of time.
People tell me they don’t have room for trees. Some of the time, they are incorrect. Since we have lived here, on a property of 1/4 acre, we have planted 19 trees. There were five existing. Two Norway maples died at the curb and the township took them away–good riddance and I’m thankful they are gone as they are dreadful trees. Additionally, not all trees are created equal for use in the garden and landscape. Certain trees have little if any landscape value and some are downright problematic. Norway maple is one of these. I will rant about it in another newsletter.
Sadly, the Sassafras tree died summer before last (I left the trunk on which to hang a wren house) leaving a gorgeous Japanese Maple and a white flowering dogwood.
Head on over to the blog spot for the rest…..
I have read–and please don’t quote me because I don’t remember the source–that each American family should plant 7 trees to offset the carbon dioxide pollution we have in this country. That is a whole lot of trees when you consider how many city-dwellers don’t have gardens in which to plant. Here’s my list as to why you should plant trees and a short list of my favorite trees for spring to get you going:
1. Habitat. Trees provide homes for an enormous range of wildlife from butterflies and moths, scores of other beneficial insects, to squirrels and birds;
2. Structure in winter. Hard to beat a tree for winter beauty holding snow in its limbs;
3. Oxygen. Provides good stuff for you to breathe; let’s face it, folks, we’d be goners without trees around;
4. Climate help. Shade trees on the Southwest side of your home will provide cooling effect in summer; planted on the Northwest side will help provide winter wind screen (this would be evergreen trees;)
5. Seasonal change-out- they do the work so you don’t have to! What other plant can provide so much year-round excitement?
6. Food–fruit and nuts.
7. ROI value for you home; treed neighborhoods are generally more expensive on the real estate market.
If you are not yet won over, here are my springtime favorites:
1. Redbud–bright pink flowers on the stems and branches in early spring before the leaves pop out; bright yellow fall color; textural bark as the tree matures;
2. Serviceberry–tiny white flowers in spring; edible berries (birds love them so be quick when they ripen if you want any;) bright orange and red fall color; bark has a lavender coloration most noticeable in the winter;
3. Sweetbay Magnolia–our native magnolia that is sometimes considered the runner-up to the saucer magnolia. I disagree. This tree has a beautiful habit and pretty white flowers. In recent years, I have seen it evergreen;
4. Cornelian Cherry–this is actually a dogwood tree (one of those cases where the common name is confusing.) It has pretty yellow flowers in spring, a fantastic bark that is mottled and peely, a very attractive branching habit, and nice yellow fall color. I think this tree is very under-utilized in gardens;
5. Flowering Cherry–this has got to be everyone’s favorite springtime tree. Nice fall color–orange– and a bark that is like nobby silk.
Lastly, I am remembering a wonderful book, The Giving Tree; it is a story about a tree who gave everything of itself to be enjoyed by someone it loved. A story for children, certainly, but the message is beautiful.
Do you have a favorite tree in your garden? Tell us about it.