Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Camphor trees create a great perfume as in the air, as well as shade for sitting on porches and a great structure for children to climb.
Live Oak trees covered in Spanish moss give the streets a very distinctive southern character. The azaleas were in bloom when I was there, and seemed almost magical under the branches covered in Spanish moss.
However, even in the sunshine state there are conflicts between trees and overhead wires, as well as other curbside uses, such as garbage collection.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Although they were planted on the same street, on the same day, these two trees have had very different experiences. The tree on the southern side of the street has had a much rougher go of it. A branch was torn off of the south side tree in early April, leaving a jagged wound. Coming home from work one day, I saw the damage done, and was afraid that this wound would provide an entry for insects and fungus to attack my new neighbor, stunt its growth, and possibly kill it. Luckily, another neighbor also realized the danger to the young tree, as the torn branch was pruned within a week.
To add insult to injury, the tree on the south side of the street remains shaded by neighboring buildings much more of the day than the tree on the north side of the street. This may not seem like such a big deal to us who can walk to the grocery store to get our food, but the Zelkova is stuck waiting for the sun to bring food to it, so building shadows can really get in the way of a good meal. In fact, the south side tree leafed out a few weeks later and continues to lag behind the north side tree in foliage growth. There undoubtedly were other factors effecting the slower growth rate of the south side tree (the wound, perhaps differential treatment at the nursery or during planting), but the southern exposure that the north side tree experienced certainly gave it a leaf up. Further down the street, the Callery Pear trees on the south side and at the corners (where they were able to get more sunlight) also flowered sooner and more this spring. Most people do not realize just how much of an impact building shadows have not only on what can or cannot grow, but also on the size, shape, and speed of growth of whatever is planted there.
North Side Zelkova
South Side Zelkova
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
In my neighborhood, the crocuses emerged first. Then the dwarf irises. Pansies were planted. And then all sorts of cold hardy plants began emerging on windowsills, stoops, and shop fronts. One interesting thing I've noticed is the different ways in which flowering bulbs have been appearing in tree pits around the city. In many neighborhoods bulbs were planted last season and have sprouted and flowered on their own schedule (such as the purple irises below). In other neighborhoods they do not allow their bulbs to overwinter on the street, but grow their bulbs in greenhouses and then bring in plants that have already sprouted and developed flowers to bring instant color to their tree pits (such as the yellow tulips below). Two different methods. One is certainly more expensive than the other. Another difference is an aesthetic one between a more naturalized planting, bringing a bit of natural woodland into the city, verses filling in the tree pit as if it were a flower box, to be kept to optimize seasonal color. Tree pit plantings are always contrived, cultivated areas. However, there remain different approaches to the aesthetic of a tree pit, and decisions to be made on whether it is to be treated as a bit of nature in the city, or a controlled flower box to be filled with the monoculture of the season.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I was happy to see that there was not a mulch volcano around the base of the young tree. However, they clearly did not skimp on the mulch, as the pit is practically overflowing, as you can see below. Also note that the new tree pit quickly attracted dog droppings and garbage piling. One can see that a tree guard, even a small one, is needed to protect soil around the tree, as well as the tree itself.
April is MillionTreesNYC Month. There is more information about how to request a tree and other ways to get involved (such as planting a tree on private property!) on the MillionTreesNYC web site.
Monday, February 4, 2008
The large roots of the Willow Oak also support a large canopy (pictured below in winter). The tree canopy provides shade, cleans the air, cools the climate, and provides beauty and interest year round. Larger trees may not have room in the tree pit for additional plantings, but large specimens are so majestic they don't need any adornment to make a beautiful statement on the street.