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 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.


  1. I'd love to have a Sassafras tree that large on my property. They have lovely fall foliage.

  2. I weeded a few sassafras seedlings from my garden this year. Gave one to a friend, tossed the rest. I also had many stems coming up from underground off the roots of a mature-ish specimen nearby. No fibrous roots attached to those ones. So no way to move them unless one wanted to try severing the connection to the parent plant in situ and waiting a year before digging. Might work. There's people who would know. I bet I can get some pups off the roots of my tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica). Little stems have sprouted from every point where the roots were exposed during a regrading.

  3. Dang! That is an awesome trunk on the Smoke tree. As a wooden spoon maker... that sort of tree makes me drool. Beautiful!

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