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).

August 2006 Letters

Wed, Aug. 30, 2006: Brenda, from a city lot in North Carolina, writes: Hi! I thoroughly enjoy your webpage!!! Thanks for sharing!!! I sooooooooooooooooooo wanted a purple leaf plum tree (actually 3 of them are/ were going to be planted) …………but after I read your webpage…………..I’m not sure. What other tree would you plant near a driveway – approx 17 feet apart from each other? I live on less than ∏ acre city lot in North Carolina. I want something that has a high “wow” factor. Any help/ advice is greatly appreciated! I see you would NOT plant this tree all over again. Anxious for your reply! Brenda

Dear Brenda, Well, don't necessarily take just my word for it; there are plenty of people who love this tree, I just don't happen to be one of them. Man, oh man, I sure wouldn't want to have THREE of them! Yikes! Actually, I'm not so sure I'd want to have three of ANYthing, just for the boredom of it, and the potential for complete failure of the planting project if some disease comes along that only attacks whatever kind of tree I'd planted a whole stand of. If I wanted three trees planted along a driveway, 17 feet apart, and wanted a "wow" factor, I would first pick a "wow" season instead of a "wow" tree. Let's have a "wow" spring tree, a "wow" fall tree and a "wow" winter tree. (Substitute "summer" for one of those if you want.) So, I'd think about a flowering cherry (for spring flowers), a slow growing, columnar sugar maple (for fall color) and maybe a birch for the interesting bark in winter. If I was dying to have a "wow"-leafed tree through summer, I think I'd plant a tri-color beech. I love beech trees. Good luck! Keep me posted on how it goes, even if you decide on the plums. —Julie.

Mon, Aug. 28, 2006: Michelle, in Michigan, writes: Hi Julie, My name is Michelle and I live in Michigan. I was doing some research on trees and came across your website. I live in a fairly new neighborhood without many mature trees. We have a maple in our front yard which was planted before we bought the house. We have no shade in our backyard where my two daughters play. I recently had two miscarriages, both at 12 1/2 weeks, and I wanted to plant two trees in memory of my babies. I am awful with plants and flowers and know nothing about trees. The last thing I want is to plant two trees and watch them die. Your website has been very helpful, especially since someone suggested buying a Bradford Pear Tree. After reading about your experience with the Bradford Pear Tree and its stink, I have decided to go with something else. I hope I make the right decision and can watch them grow for many years. Thanks for sharing your pictures, experiences, and love for trees with everyone. -Michelle

Dear Michelle, I am so sorry for your loss. Planting trees in memory of your babies is a wonderful idea, if not just a little bit scary. I did a similar thing, actually. My bradford pear trees were planted in memory of my brother. He died in a car accident when he was 20. I planted two trees in his memory: one in memory of the childhood he had, and one for the adult life he never got to live. Of course, I was even more heartbroken when I realized that Bradford pear was the WRONG tree to plant! I wish I had planted an oak, or a sugar maple, something LONG-lived and beautiful in all seasons, something that would provide for the creature community and grow majestic and strong, or, since my space is limited, I wish I had planted small flowering trees that would be equally strong and long-lived, like a serviceberry perhaps, or a disease-resistant dogwood. I do hope you find the right trees to plant. Nurturing them can be theraputic. (Just don't equate trees with humans; trees are easily replaced.) Peace and blessings, —Julie.

Thur, Aug. 24, 2006: Amy and Connor, in Arizona, write: All that fuss about a tree!! I'm doing that now...fussing...I enjoyed the photos. I live in Arizona. You may or may not know that at this time of year we have this season called Monsoon - I personally enjoy it a lot. It's rainy! Monsoon can also be wickedly windy. This year it blew out my tree. I think I had a Shoestring Acacia. I'm not sure. But as far as fussing goes, from removing the fallen tree, trimming the not-yet-fallen trees, and deciding on the new replacement tree, how and when...has created my own version of fussing that will likely last long after I get my new tree. The purple plum leaf tree is one of the trees I have narrowed it down to, and was recommended by professional Arizona tree guys. I was told that it may not match my "decor" as far as outdoor decorating...what better decor than a purple tree?! I am a single mom, however, with more chores than I can handle. I have found yard work to be quite rewarding (more so than laundry, dishes, and vacuuming), but I know better than to pick a tree that is too messy and will give me more to deal with. Do you find this tree to be terribly messy? It's really hard to find any really good pictures on-line of trees, so I wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed Gregory's tree and the pictures. Thanks! Amy (Connor is probably just a few months older than Gregory...he votes for the purple tree)

Hi Amy and Connor! Connor, Gregory says to tell you Hi! Anyway, no, I didn't realize that Arizona had a monsoon season! Wow, learn something new everyday! Man, I understand the chore thing. No, I am beyond the point where I need to worry about maintaining my trees on a day-to-day basis. I mean, when Bradley was little, it was a nice diversion, to go outside and water my baby trees. But NOW that Bradley needs chaueffering to various activities and Gregory does too, plus two jobs, taking care of the house and helping with homework, FORGET IT! We're lucky if we get the grass mowed. I would think that a plum tree would not fare well in a windy place. But if a pro tree guy where you live recommended that tree, how bad could it be? I mean, unless the pro tree guy was just trying to unload it. I would look around the neighborhood, see if anybody else has one, see how it looks and try to determine how long it's been there. Personally, I don't like the tree in a yard with kids because it attracts so many various bugs. Yeah, it's pretty, but I can totally do withOUT the mess. Hope this helps! Bye Connor! —Julie.
P.S. And OH, thanks so much for your kind words about my site!

Wed, Aug. 23, 2006: Jackie, in northwest Indiana, writes: Hi Julie. I was given a baby (American/Eastern) Redbud tree, approx 6-8" tall. I'd like to plant it under the 12yr old silver maple in my backyard & my question is, how close/far away should I plant it from the maple tree? I'd appreciate any info you can give me! Thanks, Jackie

Dear Jackie, Congratulations on your new redbud! I wouldn't plant it anywhere near a silver maple. Like, at last 50 feet away! Seriously. Silver maples are weak-wooded with poor branch structure. They tend to fall apart easily. Likewise, redbuds have very thin bark that is easily damaged, so keep your redbud safe and far away from the silver! Good luck! —Julie.

Wed, Aug. 23, 2006: Rajka, didn't say where from, writes: Hi Julie, I just came across your blog. I had a quick question to ask about Linden cuttings. My parents have two Linden trees in their yard. I just bought a house for myself and wanted to plant Linden trees there as well. I was wondering if it was possible to take the off shoots near the base of the old Lindens to root? I know I can easily purchase the trees but would like try and use a part of my parents’ Linden for sentimental reasons. Will I have success?? If so, can you point me to the correct procedure. Thanks, rb

Hi Rajka, Gregory and I had the same question a few months back. Our research revealed that linden trees don't grow well from cuttings, but do much better if grown from seed. That said, I do think it's possible to divide suckers and propagate by layering. I haven't tried it though, so I can't speak with much authority on the subject! Plant seeds outside as soon as they're ripe, or stratify for 3-5 months and plant in spring. Hope this helps! And I hope your tree project will be a success! —Julie.

Tue, Aug. 22, 2006: Carter, in Zone 5, writes: Hi Julie, I know you have both the red sunset & the october glory red maple cultivars, and I bought what was tagged a red sunset, but which seems to have characteristics of the october glory one – by any chance do either of your trees have a characteristic where about this time they have some yellowish leaves at the tips, with some of the branch tips even having a bright red leaf amongst the yellow ones? It’s a gorgeous effect, I was worried a year or two ago it was a nutrient deficiency, but I see other trees in the area doing the same thing (of course they aren’t labelled!), and figured if anyone would know it would be you! Thanks, just love the new site! carter

Hey Carter! Good to hear from you again. Yes, yes, yes! My red sunset, particularly, has a lot of yellow in it, especially in some fall seasons. Some fall seasons it's all red, but most of the seasons we've had so far, the tree has had a good bit of yellow. In fact, the mixture of yellow leaves and red leaves makes the tree look orange from a distance. I haven't noticed this as much on the October Glory, but there is an occasional yellow tip or leaf here and there on that tree too. I think the occasional yellow leaf is a gorgeous effect too. In fact, in some ways, I think these extremely bright red trees don't look natural without a hint of some other color in there. The red is SO bright, it looks plastic sometimes! —Julie.

Sat, Aug. 19, 2006: Mary, in St. Paul, Minnesota, writes: I want to plant a 24-foot long privacy hedge. There is a pine at one end of the 24 feet and an ash at the other end. Obviously there is some shade all day long. I was ready to go out and buy 6 emerald green arborvitae until I just read your post about not growing well in the shade. Anyone have any suggestions of what I could plant for privacy, evergreen or non-evergreen suggestions are welcome. Thanks!! taylor

Yeah, good call, Mary. Don't plant those arbs in shade 'cuz a few years down the road, they'll start dying on you, like mine are! (Lost two more this month, which I haven't blogged about yet.) I'm going to have to replant too, but haven't figured out the answer yet. So we'll wait together. Anybody out there have a suggestion for Mary and me? (My friend, Todd, suggested some holly bush, don't remember now which one, but that seems like an evil idea in a yard with kids.) Oh, Mary, if you want some good feedback on this one, try the tree forums at GardenWeb, Dave's Garden or —Julie.

Tue, Aug. 15, 2006: Taylor, didn't say where from but my money's on North Carolina, writes: i have a black mulberry tree and it is only about 1 foot tall right now. what age will it start producing fruit? taylor

Hi Taylor. Hmm, I'm not sure, but my mulberry trees didn't produce fruit if I kept them tightly pruned. The previous owner of my house had planted mulberry trees as a privacy screen (imagine that) and then chopped the tops off. Now, I like a natural look, so this square top bushy tree thing looked absolutely horrible to me, even though I can see how some people might have liked the twisted branch look. Anyhoo, I let them go crazy. It took about 3 years of wild, no pruning growth, for the trees to start making mulberries. And man, I was the most unpopular girl around once that happened. The trees were about a foot from my next door neighbor's driveway. Think: berries falling on car. Berries falling on walkway. Berry juice on neighbor's carpet. Berry juice droppings on everything for miles away. At present, there is a stand of arborvitae in the spot where the mulberries once stood. I've been exactly no help to you, but it felt nice to get that story written down! —Julie.

Sat, Aug. 12, 2006: Matt & Sharon, in Moon Township, PA, write: Dear Julie, We planted a Red Sunset Maplearound the last week of June this summer (2006). It is a 3 1/2" caliber tree. I have been watering it with a tree gator bag (drip irrigation 20 gallons over 8 Hours) every four days due to the hot dry weather. It seems to be wilting and browning out on top. I suspect that I have overwatered it. What do you think? Have I done any irreversible damage or will it come back next spring? Any suggestions on a watering schedule? Attached is a photo. Thanks for your help or information.

Hi Matt & Sharon. Definitely looks stressed, that tree. At first I was thinking verticillium wilt, but it doesn't really look like that because I think you'd see defoliated branches, but yours seems to be just brown. I don't necessarily think you overwatered it, though the proper watering technique is to water when the tree needs it. (Check for moisture about 6 inches down. Dry? Needs water. Moist? Don't water.) Did you have a warranty? Because I'm thinking you need to take that photo up to the nursery and ask them what they think. Maybe they'll replace your tree, but if you wait until spring it might be too late. If the nursery won't replace the tree, then I suggest that you be patient and see what happens with the tree next year. It just might leaf back out and look better than ever. Good luck. —Julie.

Fri, Aug. 11, 2006: Bob, of Coffeedrome fame, had lunch with a friend, Dick, who visited the 'drome, and wrote to Bob: I see that Gregory (son? grandson?) has drawings of a tree through the seasons. Tell him I have been following a very special tree for several years in Central Park near the Conservatory Pond (72nd St.) where kids sail boats. It's a small beauty, (small compared to the oaks around it) avocado shaped, and at sunset alive with birdsong; then they all go to sleep and it is silent. It's a European columnar hornbeam, and there are just two of them in the park.

Dear Dick, If you made it here and are finding this letter for you, please know that it has been a longstanding dream of mine to pick a few Central Park trees and follow them through the seasons and through the years. It would be a grand collection, would it not? 20 Web pages over 10 years; yellow leaves, green grass, people in hats dragging sleds, children holding hands, and now I imagine a child carrying a little white boat with a red sail toward the water. How is it that you captured such beauty and emotion in only one paragraph? Thank you! And I will be sure to tell Gregory about the tree. In fact, perhaps we will go to 72nd Street on a trek to find your special hornbeam. If I do, I hope you'll find the blog post about it! —Julie.

Thur, Aug. 10, 2006: Scott, didn't say where from, writes: Julie, I came across your helpful tree advice and thought I'd run my issue by you. I had a sunset maple planted last summer. This spring the leaves that grew are undersized and have a wilted appearance. I called my landscaper and was told that this problem sometimes occurs with red sunsets. She indicated that her own red sunset has had years when the leaves come out small and droopy. I was not able to confirm that this as a common issue with red sunsets. I am concerned that the landscaper is trying to put me off until next year when the warranty on the tree will have lapsed. The tree has been adequately watered. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Scott

Hi Scott. Now I'm truly no expert here, but I don't think trees leaf out with undersized, wilted leaves unless there's some problem. Now, likely, the problem is not with the tree, but with something else. Perhaps it's planted too deep. Has anything in the area changed this year? Any new construction? New runoff pattern? Did you do a soil test to see if there's any strange imbalance in the soil? What's the soil like? Red Sunsets like moist, well-drained soil. Maybe the roots didn't get loosened enough at planting time and they can't break free of the original root ball. On the other hand, maybe there's huge air pockets in the soil because it wasn't tamped down properly at planting time. Seriously, the first thing I would do is make certian it wasn't planted too deep. That's a very common planting mistake. By the way, the leaves on my RS came out small and droopy in the second year too (because it had been seriously stressed in the first year from transplant and high wind). I just kept watering regularly, and kept the area properly mulched, and the following year, the tree looked great. Hope this helps. —Julie.

Wed, Aug. 9, 2006: Darla, in Colorado Springs, CO, writes: Hello Julie, I love your site, very interesting on tree growth. I love my trees and look at them everyday. We had some cherries a few years ago and I put the seeds in my front garden bed. Now i have 8" baby cherry trees. It is so cool to watch them grow. Best of luck. Darla

Thanks for the nice letter, Darla, and good luck with your baby cherry trees! I agree, it is fun to watch trees grow! —Julie.

Tue, Aug. 8, 2006: Gloria, in Newfoundland, Canada, who had a newly planted sunset maple with a leaf eaters, writes: Hi Julie, Sorry it has taken me this long to get back to you..... It has been a very hectic summer. I have been meaning to write you to say Thanks... and let you know that your suggestion worked.. my little tree is free of whatever it was that was eating the leaves.. It is growing well and very healthy now.... so THANK YOU... so much for your help. I have kept your "recipe" and will use it again if it become necessary next Spring. Take care. Gloria

Thanks, Gloria! Wow, two updates in a row! Cool! The "recipe" was for the organic leaf spray mixture of liquid dish detergent, water and oil with a dash of cayenne pepper added to keep away bugs. It worked! Yay! —Julie.

Mon, Aug. 7, 2006: Ann, in Troy, Michigan, writes: Hi, I live in Troy, MI, and I wrote to you last year about the Greenspire Linden that I planted in Oct.'04 to replace 2 large Marshall Seedless Ash that I had to have cut down because of the Emerald Ash Borer. (My 9 ft. doorwall faces west, and I practically have to wear sunglasses in my family room now!) Anyhow, I asked you what you thought I should do, because I was tempted to pull it out because after leafing-out fine for the first time in spring of '05, it looked like it had been "blow-torched" by the end of June. It was a particularly hot summer--especially for a newly planted tree, and you suggested I let a hose trickle on it every couple of days, and wait till next year. Well, it survived the winter and leafed-out fine again. It still looks good, but it is into August, and it hasn't grown at all. I thought this was supposed a reasonably fast growing tree, but from looking at the fact that it has been in the ground since Oct.'04 and has not grown a bit, I am thinking I will be dead (I'm 57) before this does anything to shade my doorwall! The one on your website seems to be growing very quickly. Do you think it is possible that even though it is the same VARIETY of Linden, that different TREES can grow at a different rate? Also, the city planted a Japanese Zelkova in the boulevard to replace a 28 yr. old ash tree in March of last year. That tree was MUCH smaller than my Greenspire, (it was even bare root, and you could hardly tell which end was up!) yet put out at least 1 1/2 ft. of new growth the first year, and probably almost that much so far this year! It is now bigger ( branches, not the trunk) than the linden. I enjoy your site. Ann

Dear Ann, Always nice to get an update! Thanks! Here's what I think about your linden problem. I think the first year, your tree was very seriously stressed. You nurtured her back to health. She leafed out this spring, and looks happy, aside from the fact that she hasn't grown. Well, good for YOU!! You are a successful tree-nurturer! Yay Mother Nature! The reason your tree hasn't grown much (if at all) is because she's concentrating on getting her roots healthy. This is a good thing! My money's on the fact that next summer, with proper watering and normal growing conditions, she'll start to show signs of growth. It might still be slow, but I'm betting you'll see at least a half foot next year, maybe more. It sounds like your patience is wearing thin, that you want some shade on your window, and I don't blame you, but what good will it do now to uproot that linden and plant something new? You'll still have to wait a few years for the new tree to get established. And remember that fast tree does not always equal good tree. How about instead of a new tree, some pretty new light blocking (temporary) curtains? Good luck! Keep your chin up! You're doing great! BIG high five coming at 'cha! —Julie.

Mon, Aug. 7, 2006: W. Baker, in Indianapolis, IN, writes: I found your site through GardenWeb forum when looking for info on a Red Sunset Maple and an Autumn Blaze Maple. I just purchased both for about $8.00 each from Home Depot who is trying to get rid of all their tree stock. They are about 7' tall and look about like the pics you have of your sunset when you bought yours. I was a little worried about them but after looking at your success I am very encouraged. I particularly enjoyed your progression photos and it gives me an idea of what we have to look forward to in the next few years. I think I was fortunate enough to find the exact tress for what we need at excellent prices. I greatly enjoy your photography. You may have this info elsewhere, but what equipment do you use? Your pics are very clear and you have an excellent eye for composition and color.

Aw, you're very sweet to comment on my photography! I am truly touched. My kids sometimes wonder which I love more: photography or trees. The pictures on my site were taken from a variety of cameras, progressing right along with the tree growth. Early pictures are mostly from my old 35 mm Nikon film camera. Starting around 2002 I think, I switched to my first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 800. Then in 2005, I was using a Canon S2 IS, and any pictures since late June of this year were taken with a Nikon D50, my first digital SLR. I LOVE the digital SLR camera! I only wish I'd had the money for a D200. All those years of practice on trees finally led me to start up my photography business, something I've dreamed of since college. I'm finding that I really enjoy photographing people! Good luck with your new maple trees. Eight bucs is a great price. I'm seriously jealous! Make sure to loosen up the root ball before planting. I'd be most worried about the roots being healthy in a tree that's been sitting at the depot all summer. —Julie.

Sat, Aug. 5, 2006: Sheila, in Fond du Lac WI, writes: I recently purchased a Tricolor Beech Tree from A local nursery for my yard. While still in the burlap in the pot it was bought in it changed to dark green with a white edge on the leaves. The leaves almost look as if they are drying up around the edges. Do you know what could be going on with the tree and is it anything that I should be concerned about? I would appreciate your advice.I live in Fond du Lac WI. Thanks, Sheila

Dear Sheila, As you will soon find out, I have limited experience with tri-color beech trees. I have a friend who has a beautiful one by her front door. Aren't the leaves supposed to be white around the edges? You might call the nursery and ask them what they think. Sorry I'm no help! —Julie.

Fri, Aug. 4, 2006: Naurah, in Modesto, Calif., writes: Dear Julie, We live in Modesto, California and I came across your site when trying to find out more information about site size requirements for 2 autumn fantasy maple trees I have in my narrow backyard. In the process of getting estimates on the cost of trimming these two trees (they are approximately six years old), I was told that these trees, while a good size for my backyard now, would soon be too big for my yard and they should be cut down now while it is more affordable. I was dumbfounded to hear this since I paid a landscaped designer to plan my yard and, while I don't have much gardening background, I do remember asking if these and other plants were appropriate for my yard. The width of my yard from the house to the back fence is approximately a depth of 16 feet. The trees are approximately 2 feet from the back fence and are spaced approximately 22 - 23 feet apart from each other with a dogwood tree in between. Some of the roots on the maple are above ground. I'd like to know, if indeed, the suggestion to remove these trees is the best course of action, and, if so, what trees would you suggest would be more appropriate given my space limitations. The backyard receives the western sun and there is a sunroom that was nicely shaded by one of the maples. Would lemon trees be a good choice? One suggestion that was given to me were crepe mytles but I know they get pretty bare in the winter, drop quite a bit, and don't provide much shade or privacy which would be a plus since the neighbor's yard backs up to mine. Any advice you can offer would be most appreciated! Sincerely, Naurah

Hi Naurah. Lovely name, by the way! I think your landscape designer ought to be given a bad review at the old Better Business Bureau or something as that was indeed bad planning to put those three trees within 23 feet of each other and in a backyard only 16 feet deep. My research is coming up with figures in the range of 50 foot height at maturity and 45 foot spread. That's too big for even ONE of those trees. I mean, unless what you want is total shade, complete privacy in the growing season, no grass and a yard full of roots. You can kiss that dogwood goodbye too since the maples would take all available nutrients. I'm not usually a proponent of cutting down trees though, so perhaps it might be possible to relocate the trees? In any case, I would look for a landscape designer with 15 years experience in the field (so to speak) and get plenty of references next time! Good luck. —Julie.

Thur, Aug. 3, 2006: Leslie, in the Dallas area, writes: Just found your blog while doing a search for Purple Leaf Plum pests. We are in the Dallas area and have two new PLPs, planted last fall. I noticed some little dime-sized bugs while watering last night, they blended in with the bark so well I wouldn't have seen them had they not moved. I haven't been able to find anything online and my usual source of info, my parents, don't have a clue. Any chance you might? Thanks for any help - Leslie Frisco, TX

Leslie and I have been cooresponding back and forth about this a bit. I have no clue what this bug is. Anybody out there have any ideas? Leslie: try posting the picture (copy the one from this page, it's scaled down) over at Somebody over there might be able to help you. Good luck. Let us know what you find out! —Julie.

Turns out, according to, it's a stink bug. As Leslie puts it, "lovely." Just one more reason to get a plum tree if you ask me. ; )

Thur, Aug. 3, 2006: Stephanie, in Williamsburg, Virginia, writes: Hi Julie, I live in Williamsburg, Virginia and just moved into a new home. We planted three Bradford pears trees back in February of this year. One tree in our front yard and the other two in our back yard. The one in the front is growing, but the leaves are turning brown, a few of them turn yellow and then brown, but mainly they just turn brown. There is a coating of something on some of the branches, not sure what it is, but I can scrap it off with my fingernail without damaging the branch. Do you have any suggestions as to what could be wrong and what I might be able to do to correct the problem. I do not want to have to dig it up and take it back to the store (if I can even find my receipt J). Thank you very much for any advice you can offer. Love your website by the way. Beautiful photos!! Sincerely, Stephanie L.

Thanks for your kind words about my site, Stephanie. I'm afraid I don't know what's troubling your pear tree. Sounds like it might be some sort of fungus? Hard to tell without at least a picture. You might try asking your question on one of the tree forums. I usually get good advice over at But beware: they'll tell you to cut down the bradford pears and get something else. They're not exactly the prize of the yardscaping forest these days. Sorry I've been no help to you. Good luck anyway! —Julie

Thur, Aug. 3, 2006: Anna, in "hot and humid" Omaha, Nebraska, writes: Dear Julie, I have a red sunset that was planted a couple of months ago and now it is 100 degrees out. Do you think I should water every 3 days or wait a week if theres no rainfall? I have noticed the leaves droop even after I water. Thanks Anna

Hi Anna, With it that hot out, I would probably water every three days, VERY slow soak though, so that the tree stays evenly moist until the heat abates. I would also go out at night or very early in the morning and wet down the foliage. Not everybody recommends this though. Some say it can concentrate sunlight on the leaves and cause some sort of burning or something. But I think that's a bunch of bunk. My leaves always liked a little cooling water. And I always figured the birds didn't mind a drop or two either, since they'd come swooping down once I'd cleared the way. Oh, just be careful not to over-water. I guess I should say that, but if you do the slow soak thing, it's nearly impossible to over water a red sunset! Happy tree growing! —Julie

Wed, Aug. 2, 2006: Joan, in Utica, NY, writes: Julie, Just finished my landsaping which included the planting of a Forest pansey red-bud in a small area that gets morning sun and full sun the afternoon until 7-8 p.m. (I live in upstate NY) I was told that the tree is a slow grower and if kept pruned will remain small. (don't want it to grow any taller than my house) They compared it to a Japense Maple. It is close to my house * mainly wanted a tree for shade and to give me some privacy. The tree at the moment stands about 2 feet tall * with the branches it appears taller. I love the color and the idea that it flowers, but am wondering if I made a mistake by choosing this tree. Have other shubbery and flowering bushes mixed in the landscape. Everything I have read so far says that this tree is a larger tree. I have a picture of my landscaping, but only have access to a fax machine. Would appreciate any tips/comments. Thanks for your assistance, Joan

Hi Joan. What a coincidence! I just drove through your town last week while on vacation in upstate New York! Wow, what beautiful trees up there. I was in heaven! Now, about your redbud, well, hmm, whoever told you this is a slow growing tree didn't do his research. From what I've seen these trees grow like weeds! They can grow up to 30 feet in height and they tend to be short-lived. They require a good deal of shape pruning to keep a healthy structure, which is why they are termed "short-lived." When they AREN'T pruned regularly, they grow dangerous crotch angles that break off easily. They also have very thin bark and it is easily damaged. That said, what a beautiful tree for a garden! Gorgeous leaves in spring and early summer; beautiful clear yellow in fall, adorable hot pink flowers in early spring that can often last for weeks. An understory tree, it prefers a fair amount of shade and a moist spot, so yours might actually have too much sun. When you were sold the tree and told that it would remain small if pruned, I woulda packed my bags and hiked right outta there. Reading between the lines: HEAVY MAINTENANCE and UNSAFE TREE. No tree should ever need to be "pruned to remain small." Always look to plant the right tree in the right spot. In my book, a "right tree" never needs to be pruned for safety's sake. (That said, I do admit that I love those Forest Pansy redbuds and I personally would find it fun and educational to attempt to keep it pruned for that structure problem.) Good luck! I hope this helps! —Julie

Tue, Aug. 1, 2006: Jack, in Monticello, Maine, writes: hi julie my name is jack i live in monticello maine we planted a royal red maple in my front yard was wondering if there is any thing i should give it for food to help it grow dont want it to die on us the leaves seem to be drying up on us and some of the leaves look like they are being eaten but dont see any bugs on it hope you can help us we will check your blog again to see if there is any thing we can do thanks in advance jack

Hi Jack. Sorry it took me so long to write you back. Your mail got lost and wasn't delivered to my regular in-box and I only now discovered it. Anyway, the only thing newly planted trees need is the proper amount of water and mulch. If some of the leaves are being eaten (which is exactly what happened to my Royal Red Maple), you might try an organic soap wash and cayenne pepper to discourage the bugs. (A site search from the "Julie's Trees" page will get you to the recipe.) Good luck with your new tree! —Julie.

Tue, Aug. 1, 2006: Joni, somewhere on a bare cornfield, writes: Hi—I have a very large yard and I have started planting trees because we did not have any on the property. It is basically a cornfield and we farm, plant pumpkins and ride dirtbikes. I have looked at your web site many times and especially like the sugar maple. At this time, I have planted a lot of red maples but do not have a sugar maple as of yet. I would like to have something that has the rich yellow color but is also a little faster growing. Can you recommend a certain type? I also have quite a bit of wind as we are completely in the open. I have planted many spruces as well to help block the wind, but it will be at least 5 years before they are of any good size. What type of maple would you recommend?? Thanks for your help!!! Joni

Hi Joni. The problem with sugar maple cultivars is that it seems that there aren't that many with predictable yellow fall color. 'Goldspire' does, but that's a conical tree and very slow growing, maybe not what you want in an open cornfield! 'Globosum' has a rounded shape and yellow fall color, but is very slow growing. If you open your selection criteria a bit to include "yellow to orange" fall color, you'll have an easier time finding a tree you'll like for many reasons, and it just might be yellow in fall. My sugar maple turns yellow, but I don't know what cultivar it is, if any. It also seems to be growing up as opposed to out, for now, so maybe it's one of those tall narrow kinds. Anyway, a popular sugar maple cultivar seems to be 'Balista' which can turn yellow, orange and red. I used to have a 'Bonfire,' and that's probably the fastest growing sugar maple around. Fall color is not that predictable though. Keep in mind that sugar maples are usually quite slow growing, and they like some shade better than sunny sites, so growing one on bare farmland might be a bit of a challenge. You can do it with proper attention to watering and wind break though, if you can get the tree established for the first two to three years, that's a good start. Some other cultivars to consider: 'Commemoration', 'Fidcrezam' is reportedly drought tolerant. Hope this helps some. —Julie

Tue, Aug. 1, 2006: Marcel, in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, writes: Hi, Julie, I live in the Willamette Valley of Oregon not far from Eugene. I am trying to decide between 3 excellent fall coloring Maple trees: October Glory, Autumn Blaze, and Red Sunset. I have enough land that space is no problem. Your October Glory has an advantage that it is such a rapid grower. Do you know of any web sites that have the same treatment for the other two maples that you used for October Glory? Thanks for any directional help you can provide. Ciao, Marcel

Hi Marcel, Quick reply, as I'm headed out the door: ditch the Autumn Blaze idea, it has silver maple parents, and is substandard to both Red Sunset and October Glory, in my humble and unexpert opinion. I have a red sunset page on my site so you can see both of those trees. OG grows more symmetrically, fuller, rounder than Red Sunset. Red Sunset grows more natural-looking. Both trees have excellent fall color and both trees grow equally fast. So the deciding factor will be whether you want a more formal looking tree or a more natural looking one. Oh, one more thing: OG gets its fall color slightly later and the color usually lasts a bit longer, but that is not necessarily a good thing. Do you really like to rake leaves in December? Good luck. Hope this helps. —Julie