This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Trees at North Campus housing

GreenStreet Tree Care has been trimming trees around the North Campus housing units at Northwoods I, II and III, so I've gotten to know the greenery around there a bit. The original landscape architect obviously had an affection for choice but underutilized woody materials. Quite a few katuras, yellow-woods, tupelos and the odd species of maple. Another species he selected is the rarely-seen (around here) chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia). (This is different species than the common and weedy siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) that was foisted on the public as a replacement for the American elm.) 

So here's a picture from North Campus. Interesting exfoliating bark which is highly variable depending on age. Very small leaves -- but typical elm shape with the asymmetrical leaf base. And twigs that seem to do the little jog left-right or right-left between buds, which I also identify with elms (and Tilia). In my experience, the crowns are open and cast only light shade.

Meanwhile, in the back yards of some houses along a short street in the Gladstone/Independence area, the low topography and rich soil combined to provide suitable conditions for some very impressive specimens of bitternut hickory (Carya illinoensis), one of those trees you'd see a lot more of if all that rich habitat hadn't been claimed for "higher use" (i.e., farming) all those one or two centuries ago. Even people who work around trees for a living might be stumped as to their identity. Very distinct sulfur-colored buds, and a bark pattern that resembles shoe laces lined up on their flat sides. Anyway, these lovely trees were intermixed with black walnuts.
And meanwhile, along Arborview, I had to stop and take a mug shot of this maple. Well, my experience tells me that the browned out section is dead, but I couldn't see any reason for it. I suppose maybe drought-related sudden oak death toxic-shock syndrome. Or something else. At least that. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Remarkable Ann Arbor trees . . . and beyond, and such, etc.

Let's start with a remarkable sassafras on Pomona a block or so off Miller in Ann Arbor. Horizontal limbs are propped up at several locations. I don't think the genetics of Sassafras albidum prepared it for an existence on this suburban street. What a beautiful landmark!

From the sassafras, we can move on to a smoke bush I spotted on Dicken off Maple Rd north of Scio Church. I never would have imagined that this modest shrub (Cotinus coggygria) could produce such a lovely trunk. There's a lesson in there about standing back and letting an organism's true nature assert itself. Or not.

Ever since I first was introduced to the large specimen of the tri-foliate Acer triflorum in Nichols Arboretum, I've been a fan of this maple species, itself a relative of the more familiar paper-bark maple (A. griseum). Truth be told, I've been losing interest in the latter -- as lovely as it is, it can seem strangely foreign in the landscape. A. triflorum just seems a more natural fit.

Anyway, these two pictures are of a large specimen on Park Ridge, which sort-of runs west off North Maple but definitely runs east off Wagner. There's no good common name for this species. You could translate the species' Latin name and call it 'three-flowered maple' but it hardly seems a big step forward. If you find that you rarely use the genus name 'Acer' in common conversation, don't fret -- it often appears as an answer in the nytimes crossword puzzles. That and the first name of the son of Woody Guthrie.

What else have a seen recently?  ...  how about this large white ash (Fraxinus americana) that I stumbled upon in Ann Arbor. The tree had never been treated to protect it against emerald ash borer. The photo shows some of the old damage from when the insect first feasted on the tree. New tissue has covered up much of the original damage. Honestly I took the picture mostly just to impress the homeowner with how fascinated I was with her landscape. But still . . it tells a story.

And for my token perennial . . nothing right now is more colorful than the fruit of Arum italicum. I got no common name for this thing. It spreads around in the garden in a nice way. It's from overseas. It's a jack-in-the-pulpit relative. More people in southern Michigan should consider growing it.

I'm glad it rained a little bit today. I was starting to give up on some of the woodies in my garden.