October 27, 2016
It’s the Great CTG Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Actually, our annual pumpkin is the handiwork of ever clever director Ed Fuentes.
What a treat to be on the road again, taping stories about our creative neighbors. Last week in Dale/Lytton Springs, we met up with Alicia and Joe Thornton, who escaped Houston for 20 peaceful acres.
Combining engineering and design skills (and Alicia’s background in antiques), they can re-imagine a discarded object in a flash. Along with artful destinations, they styled up a chicken coop that’s as charming as their rescued chickens, ducks, and geese.
But two years of flash drought on the heels of flash flood has been no treat for plants, including our trees. Daphne came home one day to find her 5-year-old Monterrey oak toppled over from the roots.
She staked it for 9 months, and now it’s straight again, but the roots have a long way to go before the tree is truly stable.
Then, at the Travis County Extension Office demonstration bed, a Texas mountain laurel crashed for good, despite attempts to save it when one side snapped off at the base.
What’s going on here? Daphne tells us: “Years of drought have kept trees from growing a healthy, widely-dispersed root system, so even though they’re most likely branching and putting on top growth, they aren’t able to develop and sustain much root mass to support that growth. Then, more recently, we’ve had an overabundance of rainfall, leading to wet, unstable soil.” Get her complete answer about toppling trees.
Flash flood and drought contributed to early leaf drop this year, too.
This week, Paul Johnson from the Texas A&M Forest Service explains more about early leaf drop and out-of-season fruiting, and how to avoid common pitfalls when planting new trees. He also keys us into the latest insect to keep on our radar: the destructive emerald ash borer.
We asked him, “What about planting around trees?” That’s one thing that felled the Travis Extension mountain laurel: too much vegetation near the base.
Paul tells us: “One of the challenges with putting plants around the base of the tree, is you have to water those plants, and so we’re often concentrating water right around the trunk of the tree, which isn’t the best place to water a tree, you can increase some fungal disease issues if you keep that root crown too wet.” Get his complete answers right now!
At the Texas A&M Forest Service site, learn more about planting and caring for trees, along with a by-the-region tree planting guide and tree identification, which I’ve used a LOT!
And don’t miss Paul’s Trees Are Key podcasts to answer all your questions and look for him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for constant updates.
Since Texas Arbor Day is November 4th, Daphne picks native possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua) as CTG’s Plant of the Week.
This one’s a real treat for birds in winter, when berries ornament the blank branches.
Grow this multi-trunked tree in sun to light shade in just about any soil. At maturity, it can be about 15- 20’ tall and just as wide, so give it some room. (In fact, Paul Johnson reminds us to check mature size before planting any tree to avoid problems later on). Find out more about possumhaw holly.
One chore on my lengthy list is to shovel into my compost pile and spread the wealth all around. Whether leaves drop early or late, I rake them onto beds and add to the compost pile. Over the years, I’ve turned rock-hard soil into plant livelihood.
So, on our road to zero waste, Trisha reminds us what we can include in the compost pile and how to speed things up.
On tour, we repeat our visit to Linda Peterson’s contemporary water-wise garden and outdoor living courtyard, designed to protect heritage oaks. Read my original post here.
And watch right now!
Thanks for stopping by! Join us next week for alternatives to cut Christmas trees. See you then! Linda