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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Be sure to let us know where you're writing from!
It's a great geography lesson for my children (and me).

September 2006 Letters

Thur, Sept. 28, 2006: Vince, in Huntley, Illinois, writes: Hello Julie, My name is Vince , from Huntley, Illinois . We live in a new subdivison and I want to plant some trees in the backyard for shade and fall color. I was searching the internet for some info on sugar maple via google when i came across your website. I find it very informative plus there's plenty of pictures to see. No wonder they look so nice 'coz you're a photographer. Well, I would like to let you that I love the fall color of maple trees so I decided to plant at least 2 in my backyard . I went to a plant nursery yesterday and found a Norway maple whose leaves have already turned yellow. It's ready to be planted sometime this week , but last night I searched the internet for some more information and found out the Norway Maple is invasive and non-native tree. I'm gonna cancel my order tomorrow and will choose the Sugar Maple instead. I was having second thoughts about planting the tree close to my house but after I saw those pics in your website I think I have no problem If I will plant it the way you did. Yes I need this tree for shade so one will be planted on the NW side of my house to give shade for the patio and the other one on the North side. I'm thinking about putting it on the West side instead of NW but it will get too close to my neighbor's house and I'm not sure whether they would mind those fallen leaves in their backyard during fall season. Thanks for this wonderful website of yours . I have it bookmarked for future reference & visits. Vince

Dear Vince, Smart move on canceling the Norway Maple order! Sugar maple is a much better tree in every sense. Did you plant yours yet? I apologize for my late reply. Please know that I planted mine WAY too close to my house. At 15 feet from the back corner, it's already beginning to need pruning to keep away from the house. I wish I had planted it at least 15 more feet away! You still have time to move yours if you planted yours like I planted mine. You can move it in fall, once the leaves have fallen off. Or, you could leave it alone (like I did) and hope for the best, then regret it 7 years from now. Thanks for your most kind words about my site. Good luck. —Julie.

Vince sent us a picture!

From the looks of things, I think perhaps the one under the power line ought to be moved away from that or else you'll be pruning to keep it away, and this will destroy the tree's shape. The one by the house seems a little close. How far from the corner is it? Wow, those are GORGEOUS trees! —Julie.
Thur, Sept. 28, 2006: Louis, in Long Island, NY, writes: To whom it may concern: My name is Lou, owner Greenturfcare, looking for 20 gallon thundercloud (purpleleaf, flowering plum tree) 50 Tree's I was looking for princeTree , Tree company, could'nt find them, but found you. Let me know if you can help me in anyway... P.S. would you stock this tree. Thanks for your help Louis

Hi Lou, Sorry but I don't sell trees. Hope you find your plums. People love to buy them. Good luck. —Julie.

Tue, Sept. 26, 2006: Carole, in Cedar Hills, Utah, writes: Dear Julie, So glad to find your web page. I’ve been looking all over trying to find info on pruning our Tricolor Beech. I am not a gardener so I’m really hesitant to do anything without a good deal of advice. Our tree was planted in the spring of 2005. It was about 5 feet tall and still is. It hasn’t put on a lot of new growth and though it has a sturdy trunk, the branches are long and spindly. Most of the leaves are out at the end portion and very little in toward the trunk making it look very sparse. My thought is that I should prune it back so that it puts on more growth closer to the trunk to fill it out a little. Does this sound logical? If so, how do I know where to prune the branches? BTW, it is planted in a garden in the front of our house (north side) so it gets morning and early afternoon sun. We live in Utah south of Salt Lake City where summers are hot and dry and winters are mildly cold and moderately wet. Thanks for you help. Carole

Hi Carole, Beech trees are notoriously slow growing, so much so in fact that some nurseries don't even sell them because people complain so much about such little growth. I wouldn't prune much of that tree. Maybe you could just prune one branch to see what happens. Prune it once the leaves fall off this fall, and be sure to check the progress next spring. I would find a branch and cut just above a place where it branches off to make new branches. Mark it or take a picture so you can remember where you pruned. Hope this helps. —Julie.

Thur, Sept. 21, 2006: Brenda, from a city lot in North Carolina, writes: Julie, Was just on your webpage.............which is awesome (!!!) by the way.............what do you think about the Forest Pansy Redbud for one of the two (originally 3 spots) .............trees in the front yard. I think after reading about the sap and bugs that the Purple leaf plum is not an option. Your opinion? Brenda

Hey Brenda, Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I love the forest pansy redbud. So interesting from early spring to late fall. But keep in mind it's a short-lived tree and is easily damaged by lawn equipment. The bark is very thin, which is cool because the buds pop right out of the bark. So pretty. This tree does need a lot of maintenance though, pruning for strong branching structure. If you think of it as a learning experiment, it will work. If you don't want a tree with maintenance issues, maybe consider a serviceberry. Not all that interesting though, except when it flowers. —Julie.

Thur, Sept. 21, 2006: Mike, didn't say where from, writes: Julie, I stumbled on to your website yesterday. it's awesome! My wife and I recently moved in to our new home and are looking for trees to plant. We have a very small front yard and want to put a Maple October Glory on one side. How much space does this Maple need to grow? We have a sidewalk, porch and utility pedestal to deal with. Please let me know if you can provide any info. Thanks and please keep up the great work on your site! r/Mike

Dear Mike, Thanks for the kind words about my site. An October Glory red maple needs a good 20 feet from the trunk to any structure like a house, and at least 15 feet from the trunk to another like-sized tree. Keep in mind, depending on your soil type, that this tree has a bit of a surface root problem. Good luck with the new house! —Julie.

Wed, Sept. 13, 2006: Helio, didn't say where from, writes: I am brazilian, my name is Hélio de Jesus Dias. I would like seeds of Maple red(Acer rubrum) Do you can aide -me? Thank you 

Dear Helio. Sure, I'd be happy to send you some seeds from my tree. Just send me a self-addressed stamped envelope. The tree seeds in spring, so send it to me by next March. —Julie.

Tue, Sept. 12, 2006: Morgan, didn't say where from, writes: Hi Julie, I’ve enjoyed the great information about your trees. Our local Lowe’s store has some Autumn Glory Maple trees that are very reasonably priced. I really liked the color and everything I saw on your site about the tree until I saw your comments on ground roots. Just how bad are they? And do they have sprouts that come from them? I want a quick growing tree with bright color, but now I’m a little fearful of the roots. Can you comment more on the root problem. Thanks 

Hi Morgan, The root problem is bad and getting worse. If you're concerned about that for the future of your yard, you might want to consider a different tree. Both of my red maple trees have significant roots showing up in the grass and the trees only been here around 7 years. This will be a big problem in another 10 years. Time to address it now. But how? Compost and soil, quarter-inch twice a year over the root zone, a never-ending "fix." Hope I'm not too late in writing you back. Oh, since you didn't say where you were writing from, it might depend on where you are as to how bad the root problem will be. Ask your local extension service. But I can tell you that here in my yard, it's bad! —Julie.

Tue, Sept. 12, 2006: Gary, in Bridgewater, NJ, writes: Hi Julie, I ran into your blog online as I was searching on scale on plum trees and couldn't believe I found your site. Not only have you had the same problem, it looks like you live in Metuchen and I grew up about 1 mile away in Edison off Clive Hills Rd. I now live in Bridegwater, NJ. I'm really enjoying your site and your pictures. How did you eventually get rid of the scale problem? I saw you let in more light, but I'm guessing I will have to do more than that as these scale things have been a problem for 2 years, and my trees (2) are starting to really show it. I've had landscapers come as say I could either inject the tree with insecticide or spray it. I'm not sure if either will work, and was going to call the Rutgers Extension school. Any suggestions on how to get rid of scale on the plum trees (non-fruit-bearing). Appreciate any insight -- Gary 

Hi Gary. Call my friend Elaine. She just LOVES to squish scale bugs. Ok, not really. She actually berated me the other day for leading people to believe that she actually enjoyed ridding my tree of scales. In truth, she thought it was just about the single most gross thing she ever did! But, she solved my problem! So, my advice is this: put on one of those mud suits with helmet and gloves and shoes that seal out gunk. Wipe away as many bugs as you can with your covered up hands. Then get out the pruners and let in as much air and light as you can to the inside of the tree. Prune as much as one-third of the tree. Be brutal. If the scales come back next spring, keep the inside of the tree as clear as you can. I'm not a big fan of injecting my trees with anything or spraying either, but if you're not a big fan of mud suits, feel free to inject away! Good luck! By the way, that's SO cool that you found my site. I think it's interesting how many people write in to say they used to live in Metuchen! Why does everybody move away? It's a great little town! (But Woodbridge is a nice town too.) —Julie.

Sat, Sept. 9, 2006: Deena, in Cincinnati, writes: I've been looking all over the internet this morning trying to find out if now is a good time to prune our cherry trees. Its September in Cincinnati Ohio and our cherry trees are just out of control. they need a trim bad and Im afraid to just start cutting on them. They have been wonderful in bearing sweet cherries but this year we did not have any cherries at all. If you can help please let me know when is the best time to cut some limbs off the cherry trees. and let me know why there was NO fruit this year. Thank You, Deena  

Hi Deena, Sorry it took me SO long to get back to you. In my experience with my black cherry tree, the more I prune it, the more cherries it produces the following year. Doesn't seem to matter when I do the pruning, though for next year's crop, the pruning ought to be done by early spring. So if you prune now, you just might have some decent cherries by next August, though I'm not sure what kind of cherry trees you have. Hope this helps. —Julie.

Sat, Sept. 9, 2006: Angela, in Saragota Springs, NY, writes: Hi Julie, I stumbled across your web page-- great site with nice photographs! Now-- my question-- have you found a tall evergreen privacy hedge that can withstand shady conditions? That's what I'm looking for... I love arborvitae-- have a hedgerow that's doing well, however it's along a sunny area in my yard... Thanks! Angela  

Hi Megan, NO! Actually, I haven't found one yet. If somebody out there reading this has a suggestion for Megan and me, please write! —Julie.

Thur, Sept. 7, 2006: Megan, in Washington Crossing, PA, writes: Hi Julie, I just came across you website this past weekend. Your story of the purple European beech on Chestnut street had me in tears. You see, my favorite tree is the purple beech too. I was first introduced to one by my father when I was only about 7 years old. My parents didn't have much money but my father loved the huge Beech trees that grew in the neighboring town of Yardley; he wanted one of his own.  I don't remember how much the tree cost (it was about 15 feet tall) but it must have been a lot. My mother didn't speak to him for weeks!  

I remember as my father and I would walk across our property, inspecting and admiring the trees, he would tell me that "someday that beech will be so big its limbs will reach out and touch the street. I won't be alive to see it but you probably will." My father passed away 16 years ago. It is hard to believe, but this year her majestic branches are almost to the road. I dread the thought of having to cut any of those amazingly graceful limbs. I imagine that someday I will have no choice.  Wish I could find a picture to send you.

About 3 years ago when walking beneath my father's tree (which I might add is the PERFECT tree to climb! I make sure to do it every year) I discovered a tiny plant with two funny looking leaves. Something about the color of this rounded leaves made me suspect that it was a baby beech. I took it from beneath the canopy and planted it in the back yard to protect it from the lawn mower. Unfortunately the second year my dog stopped on it and it was nothing but a stump. I figured it was dead. Last spring this little stump came to life. I moved it to a more protected spot and this spring got a real show.  I attached a picture that I took as it was just unfurling.  It was a sad day for me (the day I had to put my beloved 14year old labrador to sleep) but somehow I found such joy in this little baby. I thought you might like to see this baby too.  It is truly a little tree now, it had a second unfurling in late June, and will need to be moved to a more permanent location. This fall, next spring??

This is how I came across your website....looking for information about transplanting beech trees. And it is so fortunate that I did. I just found out today that we will need to have our water well and it's piping replaced. This will required them to dig a trench 48 inches deep across the entire front yard. It it had not been for you site I would not have thought anything about it but now I am scared for my father's legacy tree. I am worried that I will lose it. Do you have any more specific information regarding how far away from the tree this escavation should be. Any advise would be so much appreciated. I just found out this evening....we now have no water....they will be coming out tomorrow morning. I am keeping fingers crossed that you check your mail before they get here.

Thanks again. I can not tell you how much I enjoyed your site. 

Megan ...

Washington Crossing, PA(for the kids...where Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas night and surprised the Hessians!)

P.S. I hate purple plums too! 

Ok, Megan, quick. You've GOT to be there when this all starts because the digging people will try to tell you that they won't hurt the tree no matter what they do. This is NOT true. They aren't lying on purpose, probably, they simply don't know. Anyway, you MUST be confident and act like you know what you're doing and that you will protect that root zone as much as you can. You have to direct this operation like a certified arborist would. Be aggressive. Be mean, if you have to!

How far away from the trunk is this trench going to be?

What is the tree's spread?

I'm guessing that there's nothing that can be done about the location of the trench, but what you CAN do is NOT LET THEM PARK their trucks anywhere within 2 times the diameter of the tree's spread. PEB's have very delicate surface root systems that spread very far and wide. They will tell you that they do this all the time and haven't lost a tree yet. But the problem is that the tree won't die right away; it could take 7 years or more, so the digging people, and the homeowners don't even realize that what it was that killed their prize tree was construction from a decade ago.

Obviously, they've got to dig the trench, so all you can do is minimize the damage that you CAN control, such as heavy machinery and/or trucks sitting atop the root zone.

Then, after they're gone, email me and let me know how it went and we'll talk about what you can do to help your dad's tree through the stressful time to come. (Water well as soon as they leave, and don't pack dirt too tight over the place where they dug. That's the first thing to do.)

Praying here...

Fri, Sept. 1, 2006: Anne, in Howell, NJ, writes: Hi Julie, I've been enjoying your blog and photos for about an hour now; I should be doing more housework oh well! I have a front yard that is the bane of my existance. It is barren. I live at the top of the hill, have sandy soil with moist clay about 3 feet beneath, and there is no shade for the front lawn at all from about 8am until after 3pm (when the sun goes behind the house) I seek a slow growing, non-flowering tree that is heary. It has to handle a LOT of sunshine and sandy soil; and I am tired of green. The area, overall, is GREEN. There are two or three Red Oak or Red Maples growning nearby, but they get more shade than my front lawn does. I did plant an Andromeda a few years back, but it died the first season. The reason I tried the Andromeda (beautiful things btw) is that the leaves sprout red and turn green after time, and it flowers). Any suggestions would be appreciated. Even a few tree names I could research would save my soul. The amount of info on the internet is overwhelming. Thanks! Anne

Hi Anne, Got your message; I'm still thinking about what trees to suggest to you. Tell me, how much space do you have? Can you give me an estimate on the maximum spread a tree could grow to? Thanks for your kind words about my site! —Julie.

Hiya Julie; I live in a townhouse. I don't think a maximum growth over 40 foot would be good. I have been leaning toward a mimosa tree, a weeping cherry tree, or a purple leaf plum. Any thoughts on these? My front yard is large enough to accomodate an oak or maple tree, but I dont want to go that route. I seek a tree that is a slower growth if possible, and wont "tower" over my second story. It need to be able to survivie full sunlight and sandy soil w/clay about 3 feet down. Thanks for taking the time to respond; I do apprecate it. You seem to be one of a very few that has good info on tree-growing in NJ. Anne~

Ugh! Purple leaf plum! Bleah. Ok, it's a very pretty tree, beautiful in fact, until it's covered with scale bugs and dripping sap all over you. I vote for weeping cherry. That sounds like a beautiful tree to put in front of a townhouse! Love it! —Julie.