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Zelkova Serrata or Japanese Zelkova, at Borough Hall
in Metuchen, New Jersey. (USDA Growing Zone 6)

A Tree Grower's Diary
Photographs and text by Julie Walton Shaver

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JULIE'S PHOTO BLOG: city of nouns


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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Was a Photographer for Halloween

It would have been a perfect day, temperatures in the 70's, no wind, low humidity, perfect trick-or-treating weather, except for that one lady who yelled at me to stop taking pictures of her tree already. Like what am I going to do to it? Ooooh. I'm SUCH a witch for taking a picture of a leaf hanging on a tree next to the street.

It's Halloween, after all, and this tree's wearing her beautiful gold and red costume! She deserves to be praised and admired just like the little princesses and goblins and mummies and escorting moms dressed up like photographers in sweatshirts and jeans.

I'm going back tomorrow to take some more.

Lisa, in Burlington, Ontario, writes: One word for you: REBEL. What a gorgeous shot. I can't wait till we have mature trees like that (I'm in a relatively new subdivision). My sugar maple was boring this year, just a crusty shade of brown and then gone. So you keep on snapping away so we can all enjoy the majestic beauty of that grand old tree.

Photograph of the week.
10:42 pm | link 

Too Many Trees in Suburbia! WHAT?

I was hanging out over at Garden Rant recently, and I read this blog post about The Essential Earthman by Henry Mitchell. Seems Mitchell contends in the book that we are planting too many trees in our suburban yards, making it difficult for our neighbors to grow tomatoes, among other things. My response to the original ranting blog post became a rant of its own.

Read my Garden Rant here. (But please post your comments over there instead of here, just to keep it going! And besides, posting comments on The Tree Grower's Diary is such a pain, it ought to be a Garden Rant of its own.)
Photograph of the day.
12:00 am | link 

Saturday, October 28, 2006

walking silently with You

silence is how I see You
throwing Your arms to the sky
kissing the moment with beauty
joy fills the air and I stare up at the heavens
and this is how I see You
in the glory of everything
in the twisting of the trees coloring for a new morn

blossom in the tree, when will we see you

on the backdrop of a pale blue sky
a hint of snowdrop in the air
breeze ever searching for home
fireflies whispering to mama
is it time yet

i can not walk in silence for You are always in my head
Photograph of the day.
1:17 am | link 

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Just Don't

There's a lot of fall planting going on in my neighborhood. And since I take my camera with me everywhere I go, I had to stop and take a photo of this cute little plum tree around the corner and down the street from my house. Isn't the little tree just so cute?

(Regular readers know what's coming next.)

BAD IDEA! First of all, the little tree isn't going to be so little in a couple of years. It's planted WAY too close to the house and will need to be removed, not just trimmed, but REMOVED. I swear, what were they thinking? That looks like 4 or 5 feet! I remember seeing landscaping trucks parked on the street in front of that house, so it was very likely a professional landscaper that planted that tree there. Would somebody please tell me WHY pro landscapers DO that? And how is it they stay in business?

Second, that's a plum tree.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Lisa, in Burlington, Ontario, writes: Julie, I had such a good laugh reading this post. Too funny. You have great comedic timing. Well I gues it won't be that funny for the homeowner's of that house. Great to see you posting again, we miss you!!!

Colleen, in Zone 6, writes: That makes me crazy, and I see it all the time in my neighborhood. As to why lanscapers do that....two theories: 1. They really don't know better (in which case they shouldn't be in business.) or 2. It looks good at the moment, and most homeowners don't know enough to argue with the landscaper. When the tree outgrows its space, they'll think they didn't prune it right or something, and the landscaper will be called back to fix it. More business! BTW, I love your blog. Definitely unique in the world of gardening blogs.

Bill, in Sparklecity (Spartanburg, SC), writes: AND they went to the trouble to stake it! THAT makes them pros!

HEY Bill!!! (That's my brother!) Yeah, and that tree didn't need to be staked. Well, at least they didn't pile mulch up in a mulch tornado at the base of the tree. There's a little bit of good in everyone.
Photograph of the day.
10:38 am | link 

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Leaf Walk and a Fall

Bradley, Gregory, Kathryn and I went for a leaf walk today, and to collect acorns to put in a basket in the yard for the squirrels. Nice picture, but seconds after this shot, a neighborhood dog ran out in the street and was hit by a car! Yikes! The dog was hurt, but seemed like he would make it with relatively minor injuries. When we left, I hoped the owner was taking her to the vet, though this was unclear. On our way out the back gate, it was obvious that there is no lock. The dog can easily push the gate open whenever she's left outside. I'm thinking this is a pretty bad idea. Gregory's been praying for that doggie all afternoon. Add me to that list as well.

Sandra, in Plano, Texas, writes: The fall shots are beautiful!++
Photograph of the day.
6:29 pm | link 

Friday, October 20, 2006

Burning Hot! But This Is No Tree.

I borrowed Mike's 70-200 lens this morning. (Thanks, Mike!) Got a great shot of the burning bush outside the window. And this is a good thing considering there's only one other shot of that bush in the entire Tree Grower's Diary, despite the fact that this bush has been the showiest living thing in our yard every fall since we moved here in 1996.

I am often asked why I don't document the other plants in my yard, the euonymous, various shape gold and green arborvitae, the tall white cedars at the edge of the house, the dwarf Alberta spruce, and the huge burning bush.

Just too much to do and not enough hours in the day I guess. But I do love that burning bush in fall. The burning bush shields our backyard from the road and completes the fence dividing the front yard from the back. At 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide, she also provides a nice big shelter for the family of rabbits that live in the thicket of branches and weeds that grow beneath. I think about her often and know she needs a serious trim, but I rarely photograph her.

I have to say though, in fall, you can't miss her. Lovely girl.

Mary, in St. Paul, MN, writes: I loved the picture of your beautiful burning bush! But ~~ I must admit I'm a little jealous. This summer I planted a burning bush compactus, which is is supposed to only grow to 10 feet instead of 15. It's a lovely healthy little shrub and I really like the way it looks....except it hasn't turned red as shown on the tag at the nursery. It is slow-l-y turning a deep purple...almost the color of a purple sandcherry. Guess that not all burning bushes turn the bright red color. Anyone else had this experience...?

Hmm, don't know, but I'd be patient with it. It's probably still in transplant stress.
Photograph of the day.
10:11 am | link 

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Julie's Forest: Growing Zone 6j

Yesterday: sun. Today: rain. But the colors in the trees are downright inspiring! True for the neighborhood, which seems to be nearing peak fall color, but not in my yard. In my yard, really only the dogwood has any color at all. (How did I manage to plant a forest of trees that don't lose their leaves until it's too cold out to rake?) And what is it about this dogwood that captivates me so? My other trees must be so jealous; I take so many pictures of her. On the other hand, my other trees all seem to think it's still summer. (The only exception is the Royal Red maple which is completely bare now.)

Our backyard needs its own growing zone number.

Carter, in Chicago, writes: My dogwoods (pagoda and flowering) color a similar shade of maroonish purple, they are "looker" trees!
Photograph of the day.
9:32 am | link 

Monday, October 16, 2006

Thank God, I Stopped

It's Monday morning after a long and busy week. Gregory had eye surgery last Thursday, and things have been just a little bit crazy since. He's fine now, and back at school today, and I have so much to do to catch up. Cooking, cleaning, it's Mike's birthday on Wednesday, three photo shoots to edit, grocery shopping, a Christmas pageant letter... and on and on.

Once I put the groceries away, I opened the blinds in the dining room and was stunned by the sporadic splashes of red and yellow on a mostly green background. My camera battery was all charged up. For a split second, the list of things to do flashed before my eyes. I really just don't have time to stop and soak up my dogwood today.

And yet, I throw on my coat, grab the camera, and out I go.

Heidi, of Heidi's redbud fame, writes: My dogwood has practically NO green left. In fact, it bears a striking resemblance to a MacIntosh apple; beautiful swirls of red-green. Tried to capture it but my camera is no where as good as yours! Why is it that mine is in such an advanced state of "autumn"?

Hmm, don't know, but here's an interesting tidbit. My next door neighbor has a dogwood in the front yard. Their tree and my tree were dug at the same time from the same forest, and planted at the same time, around 1986. Their tree routinely gets fall color, and looses its leaves, a week before mine. Theirs also gets flowers earlier than mine. Other than that, they look pretty much the same. (Except mine is much bigger. Theirs was meticulously pruned every year until the new neighbors moved in a couple of years ago.) P.S. Wanna borrow my camera? ; )
Photograph of the day.
10:18 am | link 

Friday, October 6, 2006

Where to Look for Fall Color

He's the first tree to go every year, the Royal Red Maple, his leaves withering into a bronze wrinkle before scrunching up like an old man's hand, crunching under my feet. The beauty of this tree's fall color, or lack of it, lies in two places: the deep blue sky seen through lacy remnants of chewed up leaves, and the knowledge that come spring, all will be new and, for a little while, deep red again.

Exactly where, I wonder, are those spring buds now? A tiny red blip doing backflips inside the stem, waiting to be born.

NatureGirl, in Ontario, Canada, writes: Wonderful you speak of Spring when Autumn breezes is upon us!The "lacy appearance" of the remanents of the maple leaf a true art form. So pleased you're back! I was wondering where you were and pass along a "belated Happy birthday to Gregory our little tree hugger in training! :)
Photograph of the week.
12:47 am | link 

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Life Goes On

I apologize for my absence lately, but life, as they say, has a way of moving along. Still, it sure would be nice to have time to stop and smell the arborvitae once in a while. And there's so much to catch up on! For example, I measured my front yard trees, and need to go into all the pages with the growth updates. Plus, Gregory's purple leaf plum tree suffered in the last big storm, bending over so much that the rootball pushed up the ground and the tree is now leaning over at a dangerous angle. One good burst of wind, and we can say goodbye to that tree forever. I suppose I could get out there and try staking her. But if you're a regular reader of this blog, you're probably rolling your eyes and laughing out loud right about now. Me, go to great lengths to save the plum tree? Yeah right.

Here's more news: the Crazy Tree Lady, uh, that's me, will be making her first public appearance on Saturday! I'll be at the Metuchen Country Fair, piggy-backing on the Shade Tree Commission's booth with a display of some of my favorite Tree Grower's Diary projects. I'll have a large print of the October Glory fall color change, for example, and a book I made of the Aristocrat Pear project. I'll also bring along my ginkgo seedlings and lots of prints of my favorite tree photographs.

Speaking of photographs, Saturday is a big day for me because I'll also be photographing a wedding that day. If the bride happens to be reading this, DON'T WORRY, I promise I'm not spreading myself too thin! (Well, I might could use a little flour to thicken things up a bit.) My "City of Nouns" blog might explain why I've been so busy, and not paying as much attention to my trees as I usually do. Lots of cool slide shows in there! I'm having a LOT of fun photographing people, thanks to all those years practicing on trees!

Here's my current favorite slide show: adorable Lia.

To all of you who have been writing letters, I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond. I do hope to get to them soon! To the guy who wrote wanting to buy 50 purple leaf plum trees, first of all, the Tree Grower's Diary doesn't sell trees, and secondly, even if I did sell trees, I WOULD NEVER perpetuate the prevalent plum problem by encouraging people to plant more! Yikes!!

And, one more item on the list for today, please say a big happy birthday to Gregory! He's now exactly 6! (Could a new, non-plum tree, be in his future? Stay tuned.)

OldRoses, in Middlesex, NJ, writes: Oh, darn! Saturday is the state Master Gardener conference. I would have loved to have been able to drop by metuchen and say "hello". Maybe next year?

Kim, in Cleveland, Ohio, writes: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Gregory! I hope that you have a wonderful day. : )

Lisa, in Burlington, Ontario, writes: Happy Birthday Gregory. Six years of age, wow! Hope you had a fantastic day!!! As for mom, you are one busy lady, you may need a truckload of flour. Best of luck with your wedding job though I know you won't need it. Lucky bride and groom, they will be guaranteed thoughtful, gorgeous pictures. Lisa - P.S. Don't leave us hanging so long next time. I need my tree fix you know. LOL.
Photograph of the week.
10:30 pm | link 

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"The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today." -- African proverb

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While the Tree Grower's Diary has been in existence since 1996 (as a notebook) and since 1999 (at Coffeedrome), this new, independent site was launched on April 4, 2006. The blog posts here go from April 2006 through 2007. After that, all Tree Growers Diary blog posts appear in my main blog, the City of Nouns. Click here to go straight to the tree category.