Just a few days before Halloween I had a unique and wonderful opportunity to share my passion for arboriculture with a group of Masters of Fine Arts students enrolled in the Nomad 9 MFA program at the Hartford Art School.
The Nomad 9 group had just wrapped up a week-long residency with my co-host and Friendship Forest originator Amanda Lovelee; Friendship Forest was the last stop on their Minnesota visit. Friendship Forest was planted this June in cooperation with City of Saint Paul, and Mississippi Park Connections and provided ample opportunities to discus the art of tree care with these students. We spent the day talking about pruning young trees, the complex relationship between trees and the soil, and the important interactions that exist between trees and humans in urban and community forests.
Looking towards Downtown Saint Paul from within the Friendship Forest
Friendship Forest begins just east of the Lafayette Bridge at Lower Landing Park. The Mississippi River provided water for our new trees planted with the Nomad 9 students.
The morning started out with a overview of tree biology and basic tutorial on tree pruning. Many of the smaller Kentucky coffeetree, river birch, and cottonwood have grown considerably and required some basic developmental pruning to get them growing in the right direction. We closed out the day with planting a few trees to replace some river birch that had died since planting. In the spirit of the original planting, these trees received new Friendship Forest tags adorned with the unique Nomad 9 rabbit logo.
Carol, Director of the Nomad 9 MFA program, tries her hand at pruning a young Kentucky coffeetree.
Bri, an Undergraduate Research Assistant on Team Tree works with Carol and two Nomad 9 students to plant a new river birch. This project utilized the grow tube method using Plantra’s SunFlex system and Greenwell Water Savers.
Friendship Forest tags provide information on each tree with the names of the planters and their name for the tree!
In all I found this event and the interaction with this group of students refreshing, inspiring, and thoroughly enjoyable. Radical creativity, fine arts, and arboriculture are a good mix!
A group of students enjoying a moment in the sun with their newly planted river birch.
by Nick Perry
When you see or hear the word autumn, what is the first image you have? Many people immediately think of the spectacular color changes in the foliage. The magnificent reds, yellows and oranges can really be prominent during sunny autumn days.
This week’s “Tree of the Week” does not disappoint when it comes to displaying brilliant fall coloring.
The Highland Park Maple, Acer grandidentatum x saccharum ‘Hipzam’, is part of the Sugar Maple family and is native to North America. It is classified as a Zone 4 tree on the USDA hardiness map and can be grown in the majority of Minnesota.
The Highland Park Maple is not a very large tree in size. It can grow between 30 and 50 feet in height and its spread can vary from 20 to 25 feet. With a pyramidal growth habit, it can be used in both group plantings or as a stand-alone accent tree in a residential yard. It requires full sunlight and grows at a medium rate. Because it can handle adverse growing conditions, this maple may be able to grow where other similar maples do not fare as well. The capability to tolerate dry soils and urban pollution allows it to grow in commercial and residential environments. The ability to resist pests and diseases also add to its allure. It shouldn’t be considered for boulevard plantings, as it does not fare well in saline soils and its lateral branches typically arise roughly 78 feet off the ground.
The tree does not produce any showy flowers or fruit. It does, however, have very nice foliage. The leaves are sturdy and tatterproof. In the spring and summer, they are a rich dark green. In the fall, they begin to change color producing gorgeous reds, yellows and oranges.
Young, red branches also add an attractive element to the landscape throughout the year. The red branches can really look picturesque against the freshly fallen snow.
The University of Minnesota has successfully grown the Highland Park Maple species at their St. Paul field location. They will provide several of these specimens to local areas including the City of St. Paul and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
- Plant Finder: Highland Park Bigtooth Maple. (n.d.). Chalet Nursery website. Retrieved from: http://plants.chaletnursery.com/12120004/Plant/11343/Highland_Park_Bigtooth_Maple
- The Tree Farm: Highland Park Bigtooth Maple. (2010). The Tree Farm website. Retrieved from: http://www.thetreefarm.com/maple-bigtooth-highland-park
- Acer grandidentata. ‘Highland Park’ Bigtooth Maple. (n.d.). Robinson Nursery website. Retrieved from http://www.robinsonnursery.com/wpcontent/uploads/2012/02/Acergrand.HighlandPark.pdf
- As Tough As Nails. (2010). Lake County Nursery website. Retrieved from: http://www.lakecountynursery.com/newsroomprElaeagnusTitanAcerHighlandPark.html
- Photo Courtesy of Willoway Nurseries, Inc. Willoway Nurseries Inc. Acer grandidentatum ‘Hipazam’ – Highland Park Maple. 2015. Willoway Nurseries inc. Avon, OH. Willoway Marketing. Web. 23 October, 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.willowaymarketing.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=plants.plantDetail&plant_id=101277
by Natalie Hamilton
Photo courtesy of the city of Portland Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
This week’s tree is Cercidiphyllum japonicum, or the katsura tree. Although it is native to Japan and China, it does well in areas designated under USDA plant hardiness zones 4b-8. This means it would thrive in our cooler midwestern climate. These trees typically grow to around 40-60 feet tall but have been known to reach heights of 100 feet tall or more in special circumstances. Katsuras prefer moist soil and should be planted in areas where they can receive partial to full sun.
Photo courtesy of Heritage Seedlings & Liners
The katsura is known to be a moderate-to-fast growing tree with a pyramidal to a more arched form at maturity. This tree has brilliant autumn foliage, making it a particularly attractive ornamental choice. The leaves can be shades of yellow-gold, bright orange, and deep red. It’s said to have a spicy, almost brown sugar, scent before the leaves drop for winter. Living in a state where salt is used on the road throughout the winter months can make plant and tree selections burdensome. Many plants suffer dieback injury and stunted growth by overexposure to salt spray. This tree, however, is salt tolerant, making it even more appealing.
In 2015 the UFORE lab received its first tree nursery stock. Soon after, we planted a trial in Minneapolis to test and become more familiar with the katsura’s hardiness and growth habit in our local area. A new trial will be planted this year in downtown St. Paul. We are continuously producing our own seedlings from seeds, which will be used for grow tube trials.
Photo courtesy of Jean-Pol Grandmont
An article called “The Five Percent Solution,” written by South Dakota University’s Professor John Ball, discusses selecting climatic adaptive species in the north central region of the United States, and stresses the importance of expanding species diversity. The katsura tree would be an excellent example of a tree that would broaden Minnesota’s species diversity, as well as make a great rendition to any landscaped area or home owners yard as a beautiful ornamental shade tree.
- Kelly, Bridget. “What Is a Katsura Tree?” Home Guides. Demand Media, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://sfg.ly/1nZdQTt>.
- Grant, Bonnie L. “Katsura Tree Care – Information About Growing Katsura Trees.” Gardening Know How, 25 May 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://bit.ly/1Q9fWg5>.
- “Katsura Tree.” Trees & Plants. The Morton Arboretum, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://bit.ly/1PDlHNK>.
- Grandmont, Jean-Pol. Cercidiphyllum Japonicum. 2007. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://bit.ly/1LhtDCv>.
- Heritage Seedlings & Liners. Katsura Tree. N.d. Cercidiphyllum Japonicum. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://bit.ly/1V4gAtA>.
- Parks and Recreation Department of Portland Oregon. Tree#159. N.d. Cercidiphyllum Japonicum. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://bit.ly/1T84sIL>.
by Nick Perry
When it comes to producing brilliant fall foliage, few trees can compete with the Sugar Maple. A small maple, native to the Rocky Mountains, definitely gives the Sugar Maple a run for its money. This week’s tree of the week is the Rocky Mountain Glow Maple, Acer grandidentatum ‘Schmidt’. It is a variety of the Bigtooth Maple and was introduced by J. Frank Schmidt Nurseries.
The Glow maple consists of Bigtooth Maple stock grafted onto Sugar Maple rootstock. When mature, it is smaller and more compact than the Sugar Maple. The mature height ranges between 20’ to 30’ and the spread reaches between 15’ to 30’. The growth rate is slow to medium and the canopy develops into a tight, oval shape.
The leaves of the Glow Maple resemble Sugar Maple leaves, but are smaller in size. In the spring and summer they are a rich, dark green. In the fall, they begin to change color producing vibrant reds, yellows and oranges and the tree can appear to “glow”. The trunk and young branches of the developing tree are red and aesthetically add to the landscape year-round. Mature bark turns gray and develops long, irregular furrows and plates that also add to the visual aesthetics of the tree. Spring flowers are not showy and, when fertilized, produce a common samara.
Growing the Glow Maple requires partial to full-sun. Though it can grow in partial shade, it thrives best in full-sun locations. Soil conditions are also an important factor to consider. Soils need to be moderately moist and the roots need to be occasionally deep-soaked to produce healthy stock. The hardiness of the Glow Maple is zone 3, meaning it can tolerate extremely cold soils.
Issues concerning the Glow Maple are minimum, but include chlorosis, sun-scald and the development of decay fungi. Simply growing the maple in the correct landscape and keeping it healthy can eliminate most of these common issues.
Site locations need to be considered first before planting this maple. Planting on streets and boulevards should be avoided for several reasons, including the size of the mature tree, the susceptibility to soil compaction and the exposure to deicing salts. Because it tolerates other urban pollutants, this tree works well in residential yards and city parks. It can be used as a stand-alone specimen or in a group of multi-stemmed trees to provide a vegetative screen.
The University of Minnesota is currently producing the Rocky Mountain Glow Maple at their St. Paul research nursery. Though in production, the tree still has yet to be engaged in replicated trials or tested for regional adaptability.
- The Tree Farm. Rocky Mountain Glow Bigtooth Maple.(2010). Arbotanics,Inc.dba.Retrieved from: http://www.thetreefarm.com/maple-rocky-mountain-glow-bigtooth
- J.Frank Schmidt & Sons Co. Acer grandidentatum, Rocky Mountain Glow Maple.(2015).J.Frank Schmidt & Sons Co. Retrieved from: http://www.jfschmidt.com/introductions/rockymtnglow/index.html
- Conservation Garden Park. Rocky Mountain Glow Maple. (2015). Jordan Valley Conservation Gardens and Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District Website. Retrieved from http://conservationgardenpark.org/plants/1152/rocky-mountain-glow-maple/
- Frank Schmidt & Sons Co. JFS Introductions, Acer grandidentatum ‘Schmidt’ Rocky Mountain Glow Maple. (2015). J. Frank Schmidt & Sons Co. Website. Retrieved from http://www.jfschmidt.com/introductions/rockymtnglow/index.html
- Farmington Gardens. Maples-The Smaller Varieties. (2011). Farmington Gardens Website. Retrieved from http://www.farmingtongardens.com/pdf/infostation/50_maples_smaller.pdf
by Andrea Fick
We are all familiar with the phrase “strong as an oak”. It’s used when describing an object or person that is capable of withstanding tremendous physical stress. The phrase is just one example of how the oak tree has influenced people throughout history. People have used the tree as a religious and political symbol, as well as attaching historical importance to individual oak trees. The oak species also produces high quality lumber that is desired for its beauty as well as durability.
This week’s tree of the week is the Quercus bicolor ‘Bonnie and Mike’. The common name for the tree is the Beacon Swamp White Oak. It was discovered in 2007 by Michael and Bonnie Dirr during one of their excursions to Virginia. The thing that attracted them to this particular tree was its fastigiate growth pattern. The upward branch growth set it aside from the other larger spreading oaks in the area. By 2009, a California company was ready to cultivate the species in their fields.
This species has the same growth range as the common swamp white oak and grows from the Midwest to the East, but can spread as far South as Tennessee and Virginia. It is classified as a hardiness zone 4 tree. The tree grows best in full sun, but can tolerate shade. The growth rate begins slow, but gradually increases to a moderate rate, averaging roughly 30’ in 30 years. The overall height can range from 30’-35’ and its spread can range from 12’-16’.
With branches growing upright and tight to the trunk, the tree can be utilized in several locations including boulevards, residential lawns, parks and gardens. They survive well in boulevards due to their history of growing in adverse conditions found in swamps and lowlands, where they are exposed to extreme flooding and droughts. The species can handle exposure to salt commonly found along thoroughways, boulevards and sidewalks. It doesn’t have many issues with insects or diseases, and it is more resilient to oak wilt because it is a white oak.
The characteristics of this species are similar to the common swamp white oak. The leaves are alternate, simple, and obovate and range from 3”-7” long. The teeth around the margin are irregular and add a nice aesthetic appeal to the leaf. The leaves are a shiny, dark green in the spring and summer and change into a nice golden yellow in the fall. This fall color can really accentuate the tree in the landscape. It is a monoecious plant and contains both male and female flowers. The yellow-green male catkins are more noticeable than the smaller red female flowers found in the leaf axils and can add to the aesthetics of the tree. Acorns produced by the tree are roughly 1” long and are a nice tan color. Acorns can attract wildlife which contributes to the biological diversity of the landscape. The bark of the young twigs is smooth and light-brown in color, while the older, mature bark is a light gray and is furrowed with irregular fissures.
- JFS Introductions, Quercus bicolor ‘Bonnie and Mike’ Beacon Oak [Online Image]. (2015). Boring, OR. J. Frank Schmidt and Sons Co. Retrieved from http://www.jfschmidt.com/introductions/beacon/
- Blooming & Beautiful. Beacon Swamp White Oak. (2011). Retrieved From. http://www.bloomingandbeautiful.com/%2FBeacon-Swamp-White-Oak-P12380.aspx
- Virginia Tech University. swamp white oak, Fagacea Quercus bicolor, Willd. (2015). Retrieved From. http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/syllabus/factsheet.cfm?ID=313
- Penn State Extension. Home Lawn and Garden, an Interview with Michael Dirr. (2015). Retrieved From. http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/news/2014/an-interview-with-michael-dirr
- Gibney, Richard W. Cultivars of Three North American Trees. gibneyCE.com. web. 02 December 2015.