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Showing posts with the label native trees

Pruning A Pagoda Dogwood Tree - June 2024

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For the second growing-season in-a-row, I've pruned the small Pagoda Dogwood tree in our backyard.  Planted in Fall 2021 , this native tree has just quietly grown into something about the size of a medium-sized shrub.   It has horizontal branching, so I've been careful to prune it - while making it more tree-form while not taking too much off the tree.   Last year, I pruned back the bottom layer of branches.  Not removing branches, but just cutting them back .  This year, I'm doing the same thing - but a layer higher.  Below is the pre-pruning look at our Pagoda Dogwood tree.  The second layer is reaching out wide.   And, below is the 'after'.  I cut a segment down on each of the second-tier of branching.  Hoping for even more vertical-growth from the leader this season.  

Pagoda Dogwood Spring Buds - March 2024

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I planted a small, native dogwood - a Pagoda Dogwood - that I bought at a local plant sale back in October of 2021 .   I put it back by the firepit area, in front of the Yew hedge, and left it alone for couple of years.  It was small and I wasn't sure how it was going to grow, so no pruning was done until last Summer ( June 2023) when I took back all the lower branches to just a few pairs of leaves.  The goal was to get it to focus a bit more on the taller/higher section and begin to take on a more tree-form shape (vs a shrub with low, wide branching).   I was out in the garden today taking an inventory and noticed that the Pagoda Dogwood has produced long, thin buds that are beginning to burst.  See below for the current state at the end of March 2024: This tree puts out a lovely-looking foliage - here's last Summer's view of the lined, almost-ribbed leaves that emerge out of these buds . According to the Morton Aboretum, this will eventually get up to 15' tall along

Regal Prince Oak Acorns Collected - September 2023

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I recently posted an update on the grown-from-seed tree seedlings that I've been nurturing for the past few years and included the oak trees that are from acorns that I collected last Fall .  Last year, I collected a variety of tree species - various oaks, chestnuts and even an Illinois Pecan and stashed them in the fridge to cold stratify.    That lead me to what I'd describe as 'mixed' results.  I have had quite a few seeds turn into seedlings, but because it was a mixed-bag, I am (somewhat) guessing on the variety of the tree and where I picked it from (a park?  Our block? Up in Wisconsin?) when I took the acorns.   But, I've enjoyed that seedling-growing process.  So, this year, I'm simplifying things.  I'm only going to keep ONE variety of acorns over winter.  What tree is that, you might be asking?  The answer is:  I'm not sure.   But, I do, indeed, know that it is a columnar oak tree that is planted along Maple Avenue near downtown Downers Grove.

Northern Catalpa Two-Year-Old Seedling - September 2023

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We have a few large, mature Northern Catalpa trees in our yard that I've really grown to appreciate over the years.  They're native trees that have H U G E leaves, put out a really nice set of interesting, white flower blooms on the trees in early Summer , and have a little Fall-show in them with a turn to golden yellow before dropping their large leaves.  They leave behind long, lean seed pods that I've tried to grow into seedlings , but I don't think that I've ever successfully sowed a Northern Catalpa tree on my own. But...they also produce quite a few volunteer trees.   In the Fall of 2022, I dug up and transplanted one of those volunteer seedlings and moved it into the little, corner bed of our back patio; tucked in between the Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grasses.  I watered it to get it established and then left it alone.  Two years later, what does that little volunteer (transplanted) tree look like?  See below for the current state of the tree.  It has grown

Tree Seedlings And Shrub Cuttings - Nursery Update - September 2023

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One of the items (#16) on my annual to-do list was to keep working on 'seasonal tasks' and #24 was to 'try to get cuttings to root'.    I've been after a container-based tree nursery for a few years now and have posted about it from time to time.  The most recent post was this Summer .  I started in 2021 with Kentucky Coffee Tree seeds and seedlings.  Then, last year I tried with Limelight Hydrangea s.  And this past Fall/Winter, I went a little bit further.   I collected a variety of seeds (acorns mostly) and put them to bed in a damp sand container that I stashed in the fridge to simulate cold stratifying .   After the Summer, it appears that I have birthed a handful of oak tree seedlings.  And, have seemingly kept the Kentucky Coffee Tree and Catalpa trees alive.  I've also succesfully rooted a Limelight Hydrangea and a Boxwood evergreen shrub.   Below are a few photos showing the current situation.  First..the larger, 1# containers of two-year-old trees: Th

Silver Maple Volunteer Seeding Gains Five Feet of New Growth This Summer - August 2023

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We might have a problem in the garden.  Or, we might have something else totally.  I'm talking about the volunteer Silver Maple tree that popped up last season and one that I have left alone all this year.  Has it grown?  Yeah.  It.has.grown.  A LOT. I last posted about this tree in mid-July (about 50 days ago) and it has not slowed down since then.  I mentioned in that post that I was guessing it had put on 3' of new growth this year.  Now?  I'd say it is more like five feet of new growth.  It is every bit as tall as the Exclamation London Planetrees that sit by the fence .  Below, is a look at the current state of this (questionable-in-value) tree that is in our south beds: I didn't plan for this tree.  And...I've read all about the merits of Silver Maples.   Naturalist Donald Peattie wrote an length about the Silver Maple and called it a paradox . Both the pros - fast-growing, beautiful crowns and ability to grow in hard-to-grow spots and their cons - it gets

Oak Tree Acorns Are Back - August 2023

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It has been a while since we have had any meaningful acorns to drop from our pair of mature, large Oak trees in our yard.  2019 was a Mast Year - with an enormous volume of acorns dropping.  We could hardly keep up.  But, 2020, 2021 and 2022 were all acorn-free.  I feared that the Mast Year was a result of stress and the tree was in decline.  And the subsequent years sort-of felt the same way. But this year?  The acorns are back.  And dropping in big numbers.   The Red Oak acorns are coming down in such heavy volume that it appears that the squirrels aren't keeping up.  I'm harvesting dozens of nuts out of the lawn every.single.day.  Maybe the squirrels aren't in 'get ready for Winter' mode yet?  So, they're not paying attention?  I've been picking up as many nuts as I can and piling them up on top of the fence on the side of our yard in hopes that the squirrels will find them. These Oak trees have been on a three-year program that included Growth Regulator

Silver Maple Volunteer Tree - Maple Tree Identification - July 2023

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Last year, I let this Maple tree volunteer seedling just go .  It grew up and up and I ended up protecting it via a chicken wire ring during the Winter.    It came back this year and has put on a ton of new growth on the leader.  SO....I figured it was time to try to figure out what variety of Maple/Acer I was dealing with in the garden.  I went out and looked the foliage and then started to look around - and it was a quick Web stroll to figure out that I'm dealing with a Silver Maple.    Below are two photos of the top and bottom of the leaf - and there are two tells here.    At least...I'm about 75% confident that this is, indeed, a Silver Maple. The Chicago Botanic Garden has this listing up for Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) that details those two tells that are visible in the photos above: The silver maple is a North American native and best known for providing us with maple syrup. The leaves have the classic maple leaf shape and become brilliant yellow and red-orange in

Pagoda Dogwood Tree Pruned - June 2023

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Back in Fall of 2021, I bought a small Pagoda Dogwood tree from a local non-profit (Conservation Foundation) and planted it in the back by the firepit and the row of Hicks Yews.   And I just left it alone.  It has come back each Spring ( here's the first one ) and it grew out as much as it grew up.   At some point last year, I talked about maybe transplanting this tree - because of the horizontal - fat-boy - branching.  Ultimately...I've decided to leave it in place; transplanting a couple-year-old tree is dicey.   But, as a result of NOT transplanting it, I've decided to do something that I've leaned pretty hard AGAINST:  pruning a young tree.  Over the years, I've learned that you just leave trees alone.  Forget limb'ing them up, forget pruning.  Except (maybe) for when there's no clear apical meristem or leader, I just don't touch trees for a number of years after I plant them.   This Pagoda Dogwood has a bunch of young, healthy, horizontal branchin

Tree Seedling - Backyard Tree Nursery - Check-in - June 2023

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Starting back in 2021, I started to grow some tree seedlings from collected tree seeds in little containers on our patio.  I started with Kentucky Coffee Tree seedlings .  Then, added some Catalpa trees .  And then last year, I tried to add some flowering shrub cuttings - with Limelight Hydrangea .  By last Summer, I had a number of trees that had grown into some tiny trees .   I have overwintered these tree pots in the ground and each Spring, most of the seedlings have come back.  Below are a few photos showing the current state of these trees - first with some Kentucky Coffee tree seedings that are in one-gallon containers: And, last Fall, I collected a number of tree seed nuts (Oaks, Pecan, Chestnut) and stuck them in a container of wet sand to winter stratify in the fridge .  I planted a bunch of those seeds this Spring and have had mixed results - some germination.  Below you can see some trays showing the results of that seed collection as well as some cutting experiments.  I hav