Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Tallest Trees... Or Not

Some of the tallest trees in the world live in the pacific northwest and northern California. The giant sequoias. Have you ever seen anyone prune these or remove one? If you have you should look it up on YouTube. Truly spectacular.

In Denver our tallest tree probably reaches a height of 100 feet. Those are still a challenge to prune. Our bucket truck can reach a height of about 60 feet. That means they have to climb out of the bucket and climb the rest of the way to complete the pruning. With newer construction, especially in areas where a lot of scrape-offs are completed the yards are much smaller and cannot accommodate trees of this size. So many of the newer variety of trees available, being grown and sold are not near this size. And there are many new more upright and columnar varieties.

Here are some examples:

Crimson spire oak. This is the fall color.

Crimson sentry maple. This one stays purple tinted all season.

European hornbeam.

These trees also require much less pruning over the life of the tree than the larger trees. They do not provide the broad, expansive shade that the larger typical shade trees do. But they will provide shade and are great for screening.

And some of the most fabulous residential and/or urban trees are not near these sizes. And still, we find ourselves trying to return to the old favorites. The ones that provide us such great shade and such wonderful branch architecture. Mother nature is the original architect.

These large trees are important backdrops and canopy platings for a property. These will help in creating the understory and determine what types of plants can be planted underneath.

Two years ago I had our crew plant a Japanese tree lilac in our front yard. It is doing very well.

Last spring I order what I commonly call "miniature trees". Not all of them are actually trees. Many of them are just very dwarf varieties of shrubs and small conifers or evergreens. This spring I had the fortune of finding a small garden center attached to an Ace Hardware-aptly termed the Big Tool box-that carries a decent variety of these miniature trees. They have the best selection in the spring. I have since become obsessed and borderline compulsive with these little minis. They have just added such sustained texture, color, and variety to the rock gardens. I have them both in the scree rock garden and in the waterfall rock garden.

Some perform better than others. Some really need to be in part sun to part shade. I just don't have any shade in the waterfall rock garden. I am starting to get some in the scree bed. I have to be careful of the varieties I select to plant because of the exposure. We sit a mile above sea level and the sunlight is extremely intense. With the temperatures we have seen this season the scorch and burning on plants big and small is much increased. I have started giving everybody a brief mist with the sprinklers each evening. Spit on Denver water and their restrictions. I have an investment to protect.

Another point of concern is our drying winter winds. I bought chicken wire, a tight weave weed barrier, and some loose weave burlap cloth. I built tepee cages and cover my little ones to help insulate them from the fluctuating temperatures and the drying winds. We at times can reach mid to upper 60's in the winter and then just plunge to freezing depths in just a day. In December and January we receive our wonderful (not) chinook winds. Winds can be so destructively drying.

I also water everybody every three weeks over the winter. I even cover the waterfall and rock garden around it with burlap. This helps protect those plants and keep leaves and trash over of my water feature. Less spring cleanup. Neighbor's ask some questions, but it is like opening up Christmas come April.

These minis are so easy and versatile to use in any area of a garden. They are commonly used in fairy gardens, container gardens, backyard railroads, and as accents to perennial gardens. They come in so many varieties, colors, shapes, and growth rates-there is one for every taste and design.

I don't have any in the perennial garden-yet. Wry one sold plant these little beauties. They will keep our garden looking fresh and interesting. Some practice is needed with them as to placement. I have lost a few. But never give up.

Upper left of the waterfall cap rock is a Jean's Dilly Alberta spruce.

Lower left is a Pusch Norway spruce. Ordered from Two Green Thumbs. To the right is a hedgehog spruce. He has suffered some minor scorch. Oohing I can't reverse at this point, but I am thinking he isn't receiving quite enough water.

Left is a dwarf red variety of barberry. Just to the right is a dwarf variety of spruce. He absolutely scorched to have death. I could probably save him, but his structure and integrity as a specimen have been compromised. This photo is shorty after planting.

Almost directly in the center of this photo is a dwarf cypress. It has more of a yellow-green foliage. So far not much luck with these guys. I am not giving up. I shall try another. Just behind him hidden under the skirt of the dwarf pine is another cypress. It is more of a green and a globe growth pattern. This one is doing very well.

I have also added some juniper varieties and some mugo pine varieties but I do not have any updated photos of these yet. I will do so soon. Over time I will snip back their tips to keep them dwarf and eventually do some root pruning to keep them compact and dwarf.

Until then, find somewhere to purchase some of these to fit your garden taste. You won't be disappointed.

:) Posted by Heather using BlogPress from my iPad. Happy blogging!

Location:W Flora Pl,Denver,United States

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