Heptacodium miconioides

Heptacodium miconioides, by Robert Pavlis

Heptacodium miconioidesis a small tree or large shrub that provides year long interest, especially in late summer and fall when it appears to flower twice; once in white and then again in red. The white flowers form in bunches of 7 which gives the plant its common name of seven sons plant. After flowering, it forms small fruits and red calyx that are as large as and showier than the flowers. 

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Walnuts, Juglone and Allelopathy

The common statement “nothing grows under walnut trees” is not true. “Walnuts produce juglone”, is not entirely true either. “You need to compost walnut wood chips before using them in the garden”, is false. “The allelopathic properties of walnuts are well understood” – definitely not true.

This is a popular subject that is routinely discussed and written about, but the truth around walnut trees is anything but clear.

Black Walnut - Walnuts, Juglone and Allelopathy
Black Walnut – Walnuts, Juglone and Allelopathy

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Growing Under Walnut Trees

There is a very common myth that says, “nothing grows under walnut trees”, but that is far from being true. If you have walnut trees in your yard or the neighbors yard, you can still have a very lush garden and grow most things.

Gardening Under Walnut Trees, Garden of Phil Reilly
Gardening Under Walnut Trees, Phil Reilly’s Garden

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Sunscald on Trees – Prevention

It might surprise you to learn that trees do get sunscald or sunburn and the remedy is not an SPF 30 lotion. Sunscald on trees usually happens on the south or south-west exposed bark. The bark is damaged and in severe cases can result in the death of the tree.

Historically, sunscald has been prevented by wrapping or painting the trunk of the tree. Do these preventative methods work? Are they still recommended? Time to have a closer look at the problem.

sunscald on sugar maple tree, prevention, by Robert Pavlis
Sunscald on a sugar maple tree, by Robert Pavlis

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Planting Trees the Right Way

Planting trees seems like such a simple thing to do, but most of the trees I see have not been planted correctly. A couple of years ago I was teaching a course on trees and wanted a picture showing the right way to plant a tree. I could not find one with Google, which illustrates the lack of understanding among gardeners and professionals.

Most advice on planting trees is wrong.

Everything in the post applies to both trees and shrubs – shrubs are just short trees.

Planting Trees the Right Way by Robert Pavlis
Planting Trees the Right Way, by Robert Pavlis

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Trees Reduce Noise Pollution

With houses being built closer and closer together, people are more concerned about noise pollution than ever before. There is much talk about planting trees and shrubs between the homes to reduce noise levels, both people noise and traffic noise. How effective are trees in reducing noise?

Trees will reduce noise pollution levels, but only if planted correctly.

trees reduce noise pollution
trees reduce noise pollution

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Should Trees be Wrapped in Winter?

Why do we wrap trees and shrubs in winter? It seems to be a northern tradition. Every fall we go out and wrap plants in burlap to keep them protected from winter weather. All the books and all the web sites tell us to do this, so it must be right? Let’s have a closer look.

Trees wrapped in winter
Should trees be wrapped in winter?

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How to Protect Plants from Frost

It is that time of year again – cold and frost are coming to the north (I live in zone 5). Think about your poor plants – they will get cold – you must do something about this immediately – right?? Common advice all over the net is to wrap your trees and shrubs in burlap to protect them from frost and to keep them warm. Plants in containers on your porch and balcony need to be wrapped in bubble wrap to keep them warm. Let’s have a closer look at this common myth and try to understand the issues.

How to Protect Plants from Frost
Protecting plants from frost

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Do Forests Remove CO2?

Part of our pollution problem is the production of too much CO2. Burning fossil fuels, driving cars and manufacturing all contribute to the problem. Trees and other plants absorb CO2 and convert it to oxygen and carbon. The carbon is converted into plant parts such as wood, leaves and roots. A solution to the CO2 problem seems fairly simple – maintain and expand our forests. It seems natural to ask the question – do forests remove CO2 from the air? The answer will surprise you.

Do forests remove CO2
Do forests remove CO2

 

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Soil Amendments – Don’t Amend Before Planting

Almost every book, and most web site tells you that you should amend your soil before planting a new plant. This seems to make a lot of sense. Few of us have perfect soil and we don’t want to put our new expensive plant into poor soil. If we amend it, the plant should grow better? That’s a common garden myth.

amending soil
Person Tree – don’t amend soil before planting

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