Holm Oak (Quercus Ilex)

Holm Oak (Quercus Ilex)
Holm Oak (Quercus Ilex)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Weekend in Charlottesville, VA

Autumn Hike in Charlottesville - 2014

Courtesy:  Catherine Bramlage Zimmerman

I just returned from a weekend in Charlottesville, VA.  Just slightly further north than Roanoke, VA, but the leaf colors are ahead of Roanoke and much more spectacular.  I had a camera malfunction so didn't get a chance at photos, but here is a link to all kinds of places and drives to view Autumn foliage in Virginia as well as a foliage map. Here is also a link to Dept. of Tourism video showing trees off the Blueridge Parkway as well as central Virginia cities.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another Magnificent Ginkgo Tree (Ginkgo biloba) in Aston, PA

#Tree Tuesday

One of my favorite successful and beautiful urban trees is the ancient ginkgo tree. This particular ginkgo is located on the grounds of the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia in Aston, PA and is located near the entrance to the old convent that fronts on Convent Road. This tree can be seen by the road.  It is also a great example of proper planting and maintenance practices.

 Notice that the depth at which this tree is planted is correct and most importantly part of the root flare is correctly left uncovered by soil. Mulch is thinly applied and kept off the root flare and lower portions of the tree. Also, adequate space on either side of the tree is left unplanted and is lightly mulched to provide a "root run."

The canopy of this ginkgo is kept free of dead branches and twigs, and small secondary limbs removed to create a healthy canopy open to light and air movement.

Proper depth of the root flare is important because it is the transition point between roots and trunk.  When it is buried underground it stays moist from the soil and too much mulch and doesn't absorb enough oxygen and throw off carbon dioxide as bark is designed to do.  Soil covering the flare and piled too high on the trunk often hides circling and girdling roots that choke a growing tree - water and nutrients move back and forth throughout a tree in the outer trunk cells that are protected by the bark - and dramatically slow growth. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Katsura Tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) - A Great Japanese Tree With a Lot of Potential

The Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) is among my favorites #treetuesday features.   it has great potential as an urban tree when planted in locations that serve its needs.  

Its heart-shaped leaves are so very reminiscent of the Cercis (redbud) trees that the genus name for the Katsura is Cercidiphyllum  or Cercis leaves. Japonicum, of course, means of Japan.  

Spring and summer leaves display a blue-green hue.  Autumnal leaves, as the following photos show, turn bronze to yellow.  

Photos are of trees planted in ring around the tree lawn / green belt / hell strip between a church parking lot and the residential street which the church fronts. These trees are located in Roanoke, VA.

Interesting photo showing progression of tree leaf color and senility.  This depends upon where the sun strikes the tree.  More sun means green leaves longer; shade means earlier coloration and ultimate senility and abscission.

Quick reference for whether the tree is a redbud or a katsura is a look at its leaf arrangement along the stem.  Redbud leaves are arranged alternately; those of the katsura are arranged oppositely. 

Here we see a variety of autumn leaf colors ranging from yellow-green to golden yellow to bronze and pink-bronze.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Gingko biloba and planting in Century Park Plaza, Roanoke, Virginia

One of my favorite places in downtown Roanoke, VA is the Century Park Plaza between Kirk and Church Streets.  It is planted with columnar ginkgo trees - both male and female -  with wisteria draped over trellises that hide the sides of neighboring buildings.

The Plaza is also home to seven sculptured columns decorated and colored to symbolize the cultures represented by Roanoke's sister cities.  The columns are tucked in among the gingko trees.  Mimi Babe Harris and Donna Essig created the sculptures.  The columns were dedicated in 2004 and are part of Roanoke City's public art collection. 

Entrance to the PLaza from Kirk Avenue 

Entrance from Kirk Avenue  through metal arches

Entrance from Kirk Avenue up brick steps, bypassing

 small fountain heads and through metal arch

Fountains consisting of small heads or jets, metal arches made of metal,

 and containers of summer annuals (coleus) made a great introduction to the 

light green leaves of Ginkgo biloba 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Laburnum anagyroides (common laburnum / golden chain tree) is an early summer feast for the eyes

Laburnums are native to the mountains of southern Europe from France to the Balkan Peninsula.  Members of the pea family, their golden yellow flowers hang in racemes which do look like golden chains.

Don't mix them up with Koelreuteria paniculata, commonly called the golden rain tree, which blooms in mid- to late-June.

Golden chains hang from an underappreciated specimen in Roanoke, Va