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Taking Care of Trees

encore date: December 17, 2015

original air date: November 7, 2015

How can you avoid killing the tree you so lovingly planted? Andrew Anstrom from Bartlett Tree Experts lists top mistakes and resolutions to steer clear of them.  Looking for a small tree to plant in part shade? Daphne has the answer with native Mexican buckeye. What about scary mushrooms growing out of your tree? Daphne identifies shelf fungi and what it means. Trisha’s got your list for fall planting and what should wait until spring. On tour at the Warrior and Family Support Center at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, a community united to build a healing garden for wounded warriors and their families.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Warrior and Family Support Center Healing Gardens

At the Warrior and Family Support Center, another kind of healing is going on at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. Along with its homelike Hill Country ranch-style activities center and dining room, acres of gardens assist soldiers and their families through physical and emotional recovery.  In 2015, the American Horticultural Therapy Association presented them the Therapeutic Garden Design Award. Funded by Returning Heroes Home, the gardens are maintained by volunteers from the Bexar County Master Gardeners and Gardening Volunteers of South Texas.

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Question of the Week

What’s this strange growth on this tree?

Thanks to Jane Shepperd for sending us this picture of a tree she spotted in a park. What’s that growing up the trunk? They’re what are commonly known as shelf fungi, and, as with many fungal organisms, they feed on decaying organic matter.

That’s normally a good thing, since it means that you can control them by making cultural changes in your garden to make it less friendly for them to grow and thrive. But since these are growing out of a live tree….well, that’s not exactly an “environment” that you can change.

As you probably know, wood is dead.  And many different fungi love to feed on rotting wood. These particular fungi, if conditions are right, move into a tree in an opening, due to some sort of wound near the base, and start chomping down on that dead wood, which causes it to rot from the inside out.

Shelf fungi don’t kill the tree overnight, but it will start to decline over time, and will eventually succumb. They’re not contagious, so there’s no reason to cut the tree down if it’s otherwise healthy, just watch for signs that it’s starting to decline more quickly, and cut it down once it becomes too unsightly, or turns into a potential hazard.

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Plant of the Week

Mexican buckeye

Mexican buckeye

Ungnadia speciosa

Mexican buckeye is a wonderful little Texas native tree that’s a real show-stopper in late winter and early spring. It’s deciduous, and like many spring-flowering trees, it puts on a beautiful floral display for a short few weeks just as it’s putting on new leaves for the year. The pink flowers are similar to Mexican redbud, another great small tree, but the special thing about Mexican buckeye is that it’s an understory tree that grows in bright shade. We don’t have a lot of choices for shady yards, and that list is even shorter for plants with blooms as beautiful as these. It can also take a sunny spot in your garden, where it will get a little bigger: up to 30 feet tall. It has a shrubby, multi-trunked habit, but you can easily tame that to a single trunk if you want it to be more tree-like. Mexican buckeye doesn’t need too much water, but it needs a little; about as much as other shade-loving plants. It can take slightly heavy soil, but it prefers good drainage, or even soil that’s a little on the porous side. And it doesn’t need much pruning, except to give it a little shape if you want to. It’s not susceptible to cold and even has very attractive fruit, so all-in-all, you just can’t beat it! Viewer picture goes to Jean Warner for her lovely summer-blooming crape myrtle!

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