Tree-mail is both virtual and real. This is my Dawyck Purple Beech arriving on May 6, 2006.


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Julie's Tree-Mail

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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.

Hi Tonya, 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. ; ) --Julie

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 else.

Thanks, Shirley

Hi Shirley, 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. --Julie

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!

- Daretia

Hi Daretia, 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! --Julie

Thur, June 22, 2006: Gloria, in Newfoundland, Canada, writes: Hi Julie, I just found your wonderful site ... and have enjoyed looking at all your trees. You site is wonderful and just full of information.... ;o) 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? Thank you, Francesco

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 Julie,
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. Thank you.

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.??????????????????
THANKS Lawrence

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! Karen

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! Terri

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 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!
Best Wishes

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:
I 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

Hi 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