Garden Clippings for August 26, 2017
Looking for the perfect shade tree? You will be sadly disappointed because there really is no such thing.
We love our trees, but ask any homeowner how they like their particular tree, and they will answer with both positives and negatives.
My sister in law who lives just north of Sarnia’s Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery, has mature Linden Trees lining the boulevards on the street, presumably planted by the City when the homes were built. She loves the dense shade they provide, adding much character and shade to her neighbourhood. But in August their flowers finally fall, covering the lawn.
A few decades ago, Shademaster and Skyline Locust were almost as popular as Norway Maples. Locusts are hardy, disease resistant, and will grow in the most adverse city conditions. Their small leaflets leaves do not provide dense shade, but cast a comfortable filtered shade. But some homeowners don’t like Locust because their leaves are too small and difficult to rake up, especially aggravating for those with pools.
At one time Norway Maples were the absolute shade tree of choice. But by the 1990’s we began to realize that it was not wise to plant a monoculture of one tree. Folks began complaining that it was difficult to grow grass under Norway Maples because their shallow roots below were starving the grass above. Disease began to affect Norway Maples along with their cousins Royal Red and Crimson King Maples.
Sugar Maples, one of my favorite, provide great shade and impressive fall colour. But they are not fast growing, and don’t perform well in heavy clay soils.
Even our precious Oak trees can be the subject of scorn. Oaks are majestic, provide solid shade and are the backbone of every local natural woodlot. But Oaks don’t transplant easily, are slow to establish and grow at a snail’s pace. And the fact that Oaks drop their leaves anytime between November and Christmas is a nuisance for cleanup.
Birch trees are beautiful medium growing trees with showy white bark. Unfortunately they are subject to attack by Bronze Birch borer; an insect capable of killing the tree.
Tulip trees are tall impressive shade trees with a rapid growth rate. Their unique flowers are hidden by their own leaves. And Tulip trees have a tendency to self-prune, constantly dropping small twigs.
Poplars and Willows are fast growing but are weak-wooded with roots that can play havoc with drainage tiles and septic systems. Walnuts are strong, but can litter the backyard with dropped fruit. Flowering Crabs produce beautiful flowers followed by fruit that can litter walkways and driveways.
The lesson to be learned is that we should not dismiss or discard a tree because it may have a negative attribute. Like our spouses or our children, we focus on the positive and love them dearly.