Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tree Tops

Planting this one tree last fall of 2008 (as well as my shed) improved my backyard view throughout the seasons. Popular I know, the Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea Pungens), but I suppose popular for a reason. It has always been one of my favorites. The new spring growth on this tree was stunning. I am sorry but I am not sure of the cultivar/variety. If you have read my past posts you will know that I did not have any - as in big, fat nada - trees on this lot when we purchased this home. And trees are my favorite! Fortunately, we at least have some good neighbors like those Maples.

Reasons I chose this tree: native to North America, bird friendly, evergreen for winter interest, very full habit for privacy, readily available, transplants well in most soils and it is hardy - zone 2 in fact. Also, I am really trying to relate all my plantings by keeping within a color scheme of blue, orange, reds/burgundy. Or at least have those colors running throughout the entire garden. (I am afraid I find it very difficult to be that disciplined, however.)

Other large native trees I have planted: Eastern White Pine (above top in very early summer), Pin Oak (above with fall color against neighboring Silver Maple).

Why did I choose these? The Eastern White Pine is THE signature tree here along the river - majestic, beautiful. Both these trees have high wildlife value as well. I would have loved to plant a Swamp White Oak (another tree found throughout this region) but I do have a relatively small lot. I chose the Pin Oak because it has a much narrower form and transplants well in urban settings. The Eastern Pine will grow into (or should I say above), our neighbor's lot as it matures but he told me he loves trees (yeah!) and I did discuss my plans with him.

So, why all this tree talk? I had a great get away weekend and visited the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as well as Cornell Plantations in Ithica, NY. Not the best time to visit the theme gardens (of which some are undergoing construction), though still inspiring. BUT we also hiked through the Arboretum and it was a picture perfect fall display.

 Red Maple (Acer Rubrum)

Shadblow Serviceberry (Amelanchier Canadensis)
This is on my list to plant - but Amelanchier Arborea. Seeing this one just confirmed that YES, I definitely want to plant this.

White Birch (Betula - not sure which one)
This reminded me of the Paper / Canoe Birches in Wisconsin - one of my favorites.

The bark of River Birch (Betula Nigra)
Hmmm, maybe I can find room to plant one of these. (I find myself eyeing any village / suburban house with mature trees and trying to calculate just how much space those trees grew up in and how close together they are to see if I can fit more trees on my lot!)

Swamp White Oak (Quercus Bicolor)

Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Quercifolia)
Okay, not really a tree but I couldn't resist. I planted one of these ('Alice'), and seeing this mature shrub with its spectacular fall color made me feel really good about it! I would recommend to anyone.

Oh, by the way, the trees in Cornell's arboretum are all tagged so you can read what types they are. And I also found Michael Dirr's book "Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs" helpful in writing this post for the (hopefully) correct latin names and spellings. It is one of my favorite books and I refer to it quite often. You may enjoy finding out more about the Cornell Plantations.

We ended the weekend touring some of the wineries around one of New York's finger lakes, Seneca. Stocked up on that wine so I can celebrate another great day.


  1. I think planting trees is one of the most important things we can do for future generations. So many home are built and do not include even one single tree. It is a shame.

  2. Beautiful trees with colorful autumn foliage. Oaks and birches are my favorites. Love the picture with birch bark. Good informative post, thanks!
    No cell phone? I thought I was unique!

  3. Such beautiful trees. I have always wanted a spruce, but we can't grow them here! Oh well, at least I can enjoy yours :)

  4. so pretty, especially the hardiness of those birches. i appreciate how you stayed native to your location.

  5. Enjoying this virtual tour of Cornell! I vote yes on the Betula nigra (River Birch), if you have room! It's such a nice tree for 4-season interest...

  6. Thank you so much for all your comments. I am working on finding a spot for that river birch if it takes me all winter long! I think it is important to plant trees - and save trees - instead of just clear cutting land. And I wonder what kind of tree AZ would plant instead of a spruce in the desert? And how interesting to know I am not the only one without a cellphone!

  7. I believe the birch you are confused on looks a lot like the Whitespire Gray Birch (Betula populifolia 'Whitespire'). I teach tree identification and came along this website. Nice pictures!


Thank you for joining me in my garden in the making!

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