Be sure to let us know where you're writing from!
It's a great geography
lesson for my children (and me).
June 2006 Letters
Tue, June 27, 2006: Tonya, 20 minutes south of Memphis, Tenn., writes: Hi Julie--
My husband and I are new to tree-planting, and just planted a Bradford Pear on our lawn. We tried to follow all of the online
instructions such as proper soil mixture, uncoiling the roots, etc., but are confused about the multiple answers we get in
regards to watering it. Everyone tells us to water once daily since we are in the deep south (20 minutes south of Memphis,
TN), and since we broke the cardinal rule of tree planting and planted it in summer. But how much water does it need? I
read your previous response about checking the soil 6 inches down. Am I right, then, to assume that if the soil is dry, it
needs to be watered; if the soil is moist, hold off a day or two on the watering? Is there a consistent rule such as "water
for 5 minutes a night"? That would be easier!
Thank you so much for your help.
The consistent rule is "water when it needs water." This means you need to check to see if the tree NEEDS water. If you overwater,
it might very well die. Same goes if you underwater. Few trees need to be watered every single day once they've been in the
ground a few weeks. After the first 2 weeks, I would decrease my watering to every couple of days, again, depending on if
it seemed to me like the tree needed it. Use that slow soak method I've written about so much on these letter pages and you
should do well. (Do a page search for soak, and you'll probably find something.) Good luck. It's kind of a problem tree, as
I'm sure you're found out by now if you've done much research on Bradford pears. ; )
Tue, June 27, 2006: Shirley, in Houson, writes: Subject:
purple plum tree... also called krauter vesuvius flowering plum--I have a question regarding one
that was planted early March in Houston, TX. in memory of a friend. I
checked it the other day & the lower branches of the tree is almost leafless &
what remains are being eaten. However, the top of the tree looks good. What
could be the problem? Should it be sprayed with a soap spray or something
Sorry to be getting back to you so late. Did you ever do anything about the tree? Soap spray is what I would recommend. Can
you actually see any bugs?
Good luck. It's so sad when a memory tree isn't doing well.
Sat, June 24, 2006: Daretia, in Northern Virginia, near DC, writes: Hi
Julie. Thank you for all the work you've put into your tree growers website. It is a great resource. I really enjoyed looking
at the pictures and reading about your beautiful trees.
I was wondering if you could recommend a shade tree for my front yard. I live in Northern Virginia, not far from Washington
DC. We are in Zone 6 / 7 and have a true combination of southern/northern weather. Our summer weather can be hot and humid,
although it is usually broken up with some lower temperature (high 80s) drier weeks. Most of the winter the temperature
is in the mid to high 30's. However, we can have weeks of below freezing temperatures and at least one significant snowfall.
Fall and spring are nice and comfortable, but very short in duration.
Right now I have a Southern Oak in one front corner of my front yard and a Southern Gum in the other front corner. I have
a brick walkway that runs through the middle of the front yard with a Crimson King Norway Maple on one side and a drawf Japanese
maple and lamp post on the other side. I would like to put an additional shade tree between the lamp post/Japanese Maple
and the Southern Gum.
I am considering either the Red Sunset Maple or the October Glory Maple. Since you have both, I was wondering if you could
tell me which would do better in my climate, and if the above surface root problem was more prevalent in one than the other?
Thanks for your help!
Sorry to be getting back to you so late. Thanks for your kind words about my site!
One thing I'd like to know is how big is your front yard? Because that's a lot of trees! I don't know how big the existing
trees are either, but I'm betting that if they are still smallish, you are thinking that you need more shade. I'm thinking
that unless you have a football field for a front yard, you have enough trees already!
Surface roots will be a problem, probably, with either of the red maples you're interested in, so keep that in consideration.
As far as which one is better for your climate, I think they are probably equal. Here are some things to think about when
making your final deccision.
* The Red Sunset (RS) will turn earlier in fall than the October Glory (OG), and the color won't last as long, in a typical
fall. That can be good and bad, depending on your preference. You still get 2 or 3 weeks of good, bright red fall color with
the RS, but the leaves fall when it's still FALL. This is as opposed to the OG, whose leaves you'll still be raking well into
December. Maybe you sort of want to get it over with in November, rather than at Christmas.
* The OG's color will last longer, up to a month in some years, and might be slightly brighter than RS, but the difference,
honestly, is barely noticeable, and I have both. I rather like the fact that the RS's fall color has a bit of yellow. Gives
the tree a more natural fall color. I think the OG color is SO bright red as to almost be UNnatural!
* The RS will grow at a more pyramidal shape, when young, while the OG will be more rounded. At maturity, they'll both be
generally broad and round, but the OG will be more symmetrical, that is, assuming it hasn't lost any major branches in storms
over the years. (They tend to be weak-wooded, as are most fast-growing trees, including RS.) The symmetrical thing might be
something you'd want in a front yard next to a lightpost. Or not. Your preference.
That's it, that's all I can think of today to offer as a comparison for October Glory and Red Sunset maples. I should make
this a blog post. Good question!
Sat, June 24, 2006: Susan, in Columbia, SC, writes: Jules -
Thank you for the pruning advice for my weeping cherry. I knew you'd have
the answers!!! We get Japanese beetles all over that tree and on our rose
bushes. That web site is probably right...the best control is hand-picking
them (ick, ick, ick). Chip has to spray the roses, there's no way around
that one. But the beetle trap only makes more show up (just like the web
site said). I hate those things...they are a pretty looking bug, but they
destroy everything in sight!!!
Is it OK to prune the tree now...or should I wait until cooler weather??
It's like 97 degrees here now. Will that shock the tree?
Love you too! 305
Well, I think if it were me, I'd prune it now, late in the afternoon,
and water well after pruning using the slow soak method, not the sprinkler.
Sorry to be getting back to you so late! Love you, hon!
Thur, June 22, 2006: Gloria, in Newfoundland, Canada, writes:
I just found your wonderful site ... and have enjoyed looking at all your trees. You site is wonderful and just full of information....
I am writing you from Newfoundland, Canada.... and I just recently planted a Sunset Maple tree..... My tree is quite small
only about a foot high... and I planted it about a month ago... but it already has lots and lots of growth... so it is doing
well except for this problem. I have noticed that there is some damage to some of the leaves... looks like leaf miner to
me. I am wondering if you have ever had this problem and if so what can be done about it.
Hi Gloria. Congratulations on your new tree, and thanks for the
kind words about my little labor-of-love site here. I would spray the tree with a homemade soap wash, then sprinkle with cayenne
pepper. Repeat after a rain. To make the soap, mix a tablespoon of mild liquid dish detergent in a quart of water and a tablespoon
of vegetable oil. Spray on the tree, getting the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Sprinkle the cayenne pepper on while the
leaves are still wet. Hope this helps. --Julie
Tue, June 20, 2006: Susan, my first best friend, been friends since we were three,
in Columbia, SC, writes: Jules-
Help...need advice on pruning a weeping cherry tree! It's over a year old and
the branches are dragging on the ground. I assume this isn't good...should we
trim the limbs to several inches above the ground or leave them alone? The
branches are healthy and beautiful and it breaks my heart to cut them back.
Also, any advice on keeping Japanese beetles away (we've already sprayed) :o)
No, no, no, Suze! Feel free to cut! You are not hurting your
tree. Think of it as a hair cut. It will do you both good to let go of some of the extra weight. (I didn't mean that the way
it sounds!) Don't give your tree a bowl cut though. That won't look natural. Bring the length up so the branches don't touch
the ground, then make some branches shorter than others. Don't prune any more than 1/3 of the tree in any given year though.
About the beetles, I try to find organic controls for pests (sorry I can't send my neighbor Elaine up to hand pick them off for you). Maybe this Web site will help.--Love you, hon! --Julie
Mon, June 19, 2006: Francesco, in Yakima, Washington, writes: Hello,
what a beautiful web site you have. I planted a red bud last fall, I’m concerned that 80- 90% of it’s leaves have
well demarcated, shriveled up dry brown areas. After looking through some books, I believe this could represent Anthracnose,
a fungal infection. On closer inspection of my other trees, I now believe possibly, my scarlet oak may be infected. It has
been a particularly wet spring and I’m hoping as it gets drier this infection will resolve or not? What do you recommend?
Thanks, Francesco. Anthracnose is rarely lethal in oaks. I would
prune away affected branches using disinfected pruners (rinse the pruners in 1 part bleach, 4 parts water before and after
the pruning job) and in the fall I would make sure to rake away the leaves and dispose of them in the trash, not compost.
That dogwood with 80-90 percent infection sounds pretty bad though. Anthracnose can often be fatal in dogwoods. Good luck
with the oak, and I'll hold out hope for a miracle for your dogwood.--Julie
Well duh, in rereading your letter, I realized
you said "redbud" not dogwood! Hmm, still, it doesn't sound good if 80-90 percent of it is affected. Prune some of it away,
and then be sure to rake away the leaves in fall. Make sure the tree gets a fair amount of air circulation and let in some
extra light. Don't know if any of that will help though. Sorry for the WEIRD answer! --Julie
Sun, June 18, 2006: Christy, over the water in Washington state, writes: Hi Julie.
Like you page....Today my Hubby brought home a Jap. Red Maple. We live over the water in WA. St., so our yard is deck and
planters. Yes we have some Large planters.
My Q....My gardening book has a paragraph on these trees. One thing it said was they like loose soil... NO clay type. Well
when we unwrapped the burlap around the roots... it was burried in a ball of CLAY? The ball was so hard and compacted that
I slowly watered and picked and removed 80% before planting in loose soil. Of all the tree's I have had through the years...
never a jap. red maple.... Did I goof? Also can I prune it? The ones we've seen in yards seem "groomed"?
Thanks for all your help.
Christy_2006 aka Donna
Hi Christy, a k a Donna. Japanese red maples like rich, moist,
well-drained soil, so removing some of the clay was probably a decent idea, especially if the tree was destined for a planter.
These trees look best, in my humble opinion, when they grow in their naturally graceful way, with no pruning post purchase.
But maybe that's just me. Good luck! JRM's don't like to be transplanted, so I'm wondering how yours is doing now that it's
been in the pot a few days. Don't overwater! --Julie
Sat, June 17, 2006: Donna, in Southern Ontario, Canada, writes: Hi
I am having trouble with my Japanese Maple and wonder if you can help. I love my tree but the last 2 years it has dropped
its leaves in July. I assumed it was from lack of water and this year I have been sure to water and fertilize it well. I
have hostas planted all around it and the tree is 10 years old. The leaves are sparse this year and some have started to
curl. Help!!! Is my tree dying. I hope not. It used to be so beautiful. If you have any suggestions please email me.
I'm sorry, Donna, but I don't think I have enough information
to go on. What has changed in the last two years? Could it be that the hostas are taking too much of the water? But if you've
been watering more this year, and still no change, that's probably not it. Maybe a picture would help. --Julie
Fri, June 16, 2006: Lawrence, in Ohio, writes: Bought red
sunset maple tree on Nov 1999. Has done real good until now. Live in Ohio Hard winters, mild summers. Tree has brown leaves
and yellow leaves. We have had lot`s of rain this year. What could be the problen.??????????????????
Wow, Lawrence, that's a LOT of question marks! But I know how
you feel. You've planted a tree and nurtured it for several years and now there's something seriously wrong with it -- you
feel helpless and you are desperate to save your dear friend. (Ok, maybe that's just me.) Anyway, as I spell out in my disclaimer,
I am no tree expert, and you should consult someone who actually IS a tree expert and not take my word for it, but I think
your tree may have verticillium wilt, which is not good at all. I don't know how bad yours is, but if it's just started, the
first thing to do is to determine if the tree has enough moisture. Since you say it's rained a lot, then that's probably not
a problem. Secondly, if this is only a few branches, then you should prune out and destroy the affected ones and clean the
pruners with bleach. In fall, rake away the leaves as soon as you can and put them out with the trash. If the whole tree is
affected, there's really not much you can do but start researching a new tree to plant. You'll need to plant one that is resistant
to verticillium since the disease is borne in the soil. Beech, birch, ginkgo, serviceberry, mountain ash are a few that you
might look into. Hope this helps some. And again, I could be completely wrong and your tree could have some other problem,
so you might want to call an arborist before you make any rash decisions.--Julie
Thur, June 15, 2006: Karen, in Metuchen, NJ, writes: Call
me crazy (but not "crazy tree lady), but I love, love, love the smell of Bradford Pears! I had one in front of my house when
growing up, and to me the smell just brings me back. They're such pretty trees, though; just about the first to get flowers
in the spring, and one of the last to lose their leaves in fall. However, they do get very top-heavy, and don't weather storms
too well. I'm glad they're all up and down Main Street in town. Julie, your site has inspired me to plant a tree for each
of my kids (which trees, though, is a serious matter). Thanks for your inspiration!
Hi Karen. Thanks for writing. I'm really thankful that SOMEbody
out there actually LIKES the smell of Bradford pears. But you're WEIRD. Just wondering, do you like rotten sushi too? ; ) When you plant trees for your children,
get them to help you choose which tree, researching specific characteristics they'd like in a tree, and choosing trees that
are right for the spot where you'll be planting. Make the day extra special somehow, like letting them stay home from school
and making sure they get REALLY dirty. Tell them to dig the hole at least twice as wide as the root ball, but no deeper, so
that the top of the roots will be just above grade. And be sure to take pictures of the kids standing in the hole waving their
arms like tree limbs before the tree goes in. If you feel like it, hey, invite the Crazy Metuchen Tree Lady! I'd love to come
help, and take pictures too. --Julie
Thur, June 15, 2006: Kathy, didn't say where from, writes: Any
advice in growing a blue berry bushes. I received 2 small ones, I planted them in the sun and the leaves look like they got
burned. I repotted them in a pot and left them in the shade for awhile looks like new leaves are starting to go. Thanks, Kathy
I think your new blueberry bushes are just experiencing transplant
stress because they usually do better when planted in full sun. Perhaps it's been hot where you live? Try this site for a
lot of more specific information: Blueberries in the Home Garden. --Julie
Wed, June 14, 2006: Terri, in Aurora, Ontario writes: I have
been searching for the answer to a question about my dogwood, since you so lovingly care for yours I'm hoping you may be able
to help me.
My dogwood is about 8 years old, this is the first time I've seen flowers on it. 4 or 5 at the most. Is there hope that it
will now put flowers out more abundantly year after year? I'm not sure if I got flowers because of a mild winter, or if it
needed to get to a certain maturity. To be honest with you, I was thinking it would never amount to much and considered removing
it. I was shocked to see blooms on it this year.
Thank you for any inspiration where this beautiful tree is concerned. I live in Aurora, Ontario, just north of Toronto. We
are considered zone 5b (canadian zoning) U.S. seems to be slightly different. I have sent a few of my pics, they're not the
greatest, I'm no photographer, p.s. what do you think of my neighbour's garage? now you know why I need a visual barrier!
Hi Terri. First of all, your photography is fine. And I rather
like that rustic garage, at least in a picture. I can see how it might get annoying in my backyard though. Anyway, you've
got a beautiful and healthy tree there. Please don't remove it! It often takes trees several years to flower. Yours is just
now coming into the flowering years. So yes, I'll bet your tree has more flowers next year than it did this year. But even
if it doesn't, keep the tree. It's doing its job of blocking that garage quite nicely, and that will only improve as the years
progress. Good luck! --Julie
Tue, June 6, 2006: Holly, didn't say where from, writes: hi
julie,my neighbor better yet enemy,has planted 17 emerald greens in a space
between a cement driveway and a short wall connected to a blacktop driveway.
they are in about a 3 foot wide area between the driveways.they are spaced
about 2-3 feet apart.i am assuming they did this too make a privacy screen
which is fine with us (and it didn't cost us anything!!).the problem is i think they
were planted incorrectly and i am afraid they will die and we want them to grow
so we don't have to see those nasty people.he 1st rototilled the grass then set
each tree in their spot and covered the roots with dirt on top of the grass and soil
he just churned.he did all these trees in less than 2 hours by himself without
one hole being dug.there is no mulch around them and they are full sun all day.
i forgot to mention they are about 2-3 feet tall.so basically they are planted above
ground and he has wrapped a hose with holes around the trees to give them
water.if they survive i am assuming we have some years before those people
disappear from our view.were they planted correctly?will they survive?thankyou
for your very informative website,it was the only one to give me the most info!!
Thanks for your kind words, Holly. If you're in an area that gets snow, talk to your neighbor about NOT
shoveling snow on top of the trees in the winter, and not using regular road salt near the trees. That will do them in for
sure. Also, you would probably need to get the snow off the trees as soon as possible to keep them growing straight. Can you
tell if these are single-leader arbs? If they're multi-leader arbs, and you live in snow country, don't bet the house that
you'll ever have decent privacy. On the other hand, if you're not in snow country, or deer country, and they're in full sun,
and they get a good slow soak every week or so in the first couple of years, they might do ok. Sounds like it's a small planting
strip. The trees will be fighting for nutrients in a few years. By then, you might want to consider fertilizing, but make
sure your neighbor and you are on the same wavelength. Don't over-fertilize. You might want to suggest some mulch, not touching
the trunks, but rising to 4 inches deep at the outer edges of the planting bed. Sounds to me like a fine planting job, the
rototilling, I mean, because that loosened up the soil and made a nice inviting new home for the roots to spread out in. The
trees are a bit too close for each one to thrive though. Minimum 3 feet apart from each other would have been better.
Here's a subtle thing you can do to make sure the trees are getting adequate water: go out on your side and dig down six inches.
If it's moist there, they're getting enough. If it's dry, it's not enough water. Now, would you water them more yourself,
or ask him to give them more? Hmm, neighbor dilemmas are such a pain. You could offer to buy the mulch, and make this a community
project. Maybe you'll become friends! (Why do I imagine you rolling your eyes at that statement?) --Julie
Wed, June 7, 2006: Holly, aha, in Roselle, Illinois, writes: julie-thankyou
for your quick response.i neglected to tell you that i live in roselle,illinois
about 20 minutes west of chicago.i figured we probably have the same weather
conditions so it kind of slipped my mind.unfortunately i used to be related to this
neighbor and if you try to talk to him he calls the police and says we are stalking
him!! i can't dig on my side because i have the blacktop driveway and no access
to any soil.i looked at the trees again today and they seem to be spaced only
11/2 feet apart.i was just concerned that he would kill them all because he never
placed them inside a hole,he just put them on top of the soil and covered the root ball
with dirt.i thought most if not all plants,trees etc. should be placed in a hole and then
covered with soil and mulch.i would think that erosion from a heavy rain would
expose the roots and hurt the tree.i think he was trying to make this work now,
and not get proper information on how to plant and care for them.he bought them
at home depot(i saw the tag)and probably didn't ask for any info on them.i
hate to see nature die.there is already too many trees disappearing with all these
new townhomes and condos everywhere!! pretty soon there won't be anything green
left!! thanks again!!
Oops, my mistake. I did not realize that he didn't actually put the trees into a hole in the ground.
Yes, I think this project is doomed. Trees on top of the ground, not in a hole, no mulch, small planting space, too close
together AND you're in snow country. I wouldn't get too emotionally attached to those trees if I were you. -- Julie
Tue, June 6, 2006: Alita, in the Beverly Swamp, Ontario, Canada, writes: I managed to talk my mother into buying me a house so that she would have
somewhere with enough land to plant trees. Her small house in the city
didn't have enough property but she wasn't ready to move. We bought
property in the Beverley Swamp, just north of Hamilton in Ontario, Canada.
We are in a Carolinian swamp area about zone 7-6. Of course the joke is on
me, I now effectively live with my mother again. She has spent the past
year clearly brush and weeds from the high ground and two weeks ago we
planted trees. We planted: cercis (green and purple leaved var.),
serviceberries, ohio buckeye, nyssa (black gum), sycamore, london plane
tree, crabapple, dogwood florida (some odd var.), yellow magnolias, new
dawn redwood (green and gold var.), katsura, and black cherries. Oh and
some bushes too. Twenty-two trees in total. Last week my mom started
talking next years trees!
Nice to see your site. Nice to know other have tree planting lust too. Very
nice to pass the tree love on to your kids!
Now, that's my dream come true: my sons grow up to buy some large open land where I can plant trees at
will! (Guess I should start being nice to them so they'll let me come by once in a while. Oop, sorry. Gotta go yell about
homework now!) Good luck to you and your mom! Thanks for the great letter! --Julie
Mon, June 5, 2006: Maryjo, in Hammond, Indiana, writes: I
have a beautiful 35 foot tri colored beech with a stunning display of burgundy leaves that fade to a pink white and green
as the season progresses. I am having trouble finding another one. I would love to plant it in the front of my house. My
tree was planted 20 yrs ago and I am afraid to move it. Maryjo
Yeah, I wouldn't want to move that tree. Beech trees don't like to be disturbed. I think tricolor beech
is a fairly common tree that you should be able to find in a nursery, or through a mail order program. I did a quick search,
but ran out of time and didn't find one. Hmm. Maybe ask your local nursery for advice. Obviously those trees grow in your
area! Sorry I've been exactly NO help whatsoever. But good luck. And let us know if you find one. --Julie
Sat, June 3, 2006: Jeff, in Somerset, Kentucky, writes: Julie,
I just planted one Bradford Pear and two Cleveland Pears and they are about nine feet tall. How much water do they need and
how often? I live in Somerset Ky. near Lake Cumberland (beautiful lake). Have your kids look that up. Thanks Jeff
Hey Jeff. The general rule is that you should water newly planted trees fairly regularly, or, whenever
the soil has become dry about 6 inches down. Dig down with your finger. Dry? Needs water. Moist? Let it be. Water using the
slow soak method. Water hose on a trickle, barely coming out. Move around the rootball like a clock face, starting at "12
o'clock," leaving in one place for 15 minutes or so, then moving to "6 o'clock," then 3, then 9. Make any sense? Good luck.
Those are short-lived trees. Absolutely gorgeous lake, by the way! We did a Google image search (always parental supervision
on that one) and saw some stunning pictures of your area. Thanks for directing us to it! --Julie
Way back on Sun, May 28, 2006: Grant, in Cleveland, Ohio, writes:
have a tree absalutely covered with what looks like black and
white lady bugs. I have searched the internet but have been unable to find
what this is. I noticed three trees on my tree lawn not budding, and found
these things killing the tree. I looked down the street and only this type of
tree (sorry I have not idea what kind of trees these are) seem to be effected.
Maples seem to be fine... can anyone help? I can send a picture if you tell me
where to send it...
Grant sent me the picture -- EW! -- anybody out there have any ideas?
Ok, the concensus between my tree friends seems to be that those
are scales. Lady bugs (the regular red and black kind) like to eat scales. That's good. Don't kill the lady bugs. If you can
stomach it, you can probably wipe the scales off the tree. But they look SO gross on your tree that I don't think, if I were
you, that I could handle that! The crawly ones are the males and the lumpy ones are the females, so somehow you've got to
get rid of one or the other! I am not the right person for advice though, as I can't stand to spray anything on my trees (kids
in the yard you know). So I guess I'd put on a hooded rain coat and long rubber gloves and get swiping. EW! Creepy!
Fri, June 2, 2006: Paula, didn't say where from, writes: Hi
there. I have just bought a golden yellow cytisus and it is beautiful, but it smells of cat wee!!!!! Is this normal? Or do
you think the cat's broke into the garden shop??? Kindest, Paula
I have no experience with this plant either, but my research turns up various info about the smell, ranging from "pineapple"
to "stuffy odor." Well, that's no help! Maybe somebody will write in with more information for us! Anybody have any helpful
information for Paula? --Julie
Thur, June 1, 2006: Trish, in Missouri, writes: Hi, I planted
a dwarf buckeye 4 years ago, and it has yet to have a single bloom on it. It has grown well every year but I'm so frustrated
that I get no blooms ! I live in mid-Missouri. Do you have any advice or answers to what may be going on with it ? Thanks
so much. Trish
Hi Trish. I don't have any experience with buckeyes, but in my general tree experience, trees often don't
flower until they have been in the landscape for several years. My sugar maple took 7 years to flower. And I often hear stories
of dogwoods taking that long, and lindens taking a few years too. So maybe you just need to be patient. But I'll post on my
site. Maybe someone else will come along with a better answer! Good luck --Julie