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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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Monday, February 26, 2007

Undeserving Protagonist

My dogwood is the lead character of the Tree Grower's Diary. See, it's cold outside and since I don't want to go outside to take pictures, I can simply open the upstairs window and get tree close ups without having to get my shoes wet. Aw, what a good tree! She's interesting, has good stories of both misery and triumph, is colorful year-round and what's more: I can reach her lowest branches, plus, because of that upstairs window, see way up inside her crown.

But does she deserve so much more attention than the other trees? Well, she does have a distinctive place in New Jersey history, sort of, I mean not so much THIS tree, but dogwood trees in general. Dogwood -- cornus Florida -- is the official "New Jersey State Memorial Tree." The 1951 resolution declaring this refers to the tree having been planted along New Jersey's Memorial Highway known as the "Blue Star Drive" in honor of people who serve in the Armed Forces.

Boy do I feel dumb. I've lived in New Jersey for 18 years and I don't believe I'd ever heard of any "Blue Star Drive" until I went researching dogwood trees. But somebody better do something because anthracnose is threatening to kill off all the plain old dogwoods. What's a state to do when no official memorial trees are left?

But the true hero of New Jersey tree lore has to be the red oak -- Quercus borealis maxima (March) Ashe. The wording from the general assembly's resoution is downright bold: " is declared that the red oak is a representative tree of New Jersey with beauty of structure, strength, dignity and long life, that it is most useful commercially and enjoys great freedom from disease, that it is adapted to our New Jersey soils and is compatible with all native shrubs and evergreens, permitting lawn and grass areas to be successfully grown under its canopy, and that the fall color of its foliage places it foremost in our natural landscape scene..."

Question is: why no red oak in the Tree Grower's Diarist's yard? I just love that borealis maxima stuff!

I need a bigger, uh, maximus yard.
Photograph of the week.
11:12 am | link 

Saturday, February 17, 2007

World Famous Trees!

This map shows the last 500 visitors to the Tree Grower's Diary. Awesome! Every continent represented except the one with no trees. Check back in a hundred years and we'll see if there might be a dot there too.
Photograph of the week.
2:24 am | link 

Monday, February 12, 2007

Baby Ginkgo By the Back Door

In the theme of checking in on the babies, I thought I'd look in on the baby ginkgoes. Everyone seems happy; all three look similar except for the number of leaves serving as mulch. Hmm, now that I think about this, I've been really busy since fall. I was going to set these pots in the ground, wasn't I? I never did. Bad tree mommy.
Photograph of the week.
10:15 pm | link 

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Checking In on My Babies

This has been a strange winter. Up through January, the weather was unusually warm. And I don't mean warm as in not-so-cold, but I really mean WARM. The trees were budding. Some of the purple leaf plums in the area had flowers (not mine). Just a few weeks ago people were whining about wanting a real winter complete with frozen lakes and snowmen. Me? Never. The only time I like snow is when I have no place to go. And I never have no place to go.

I went out a few days ago and took pictures of the trees to see how the buds were doing. They expect cold, so I was thinking the warmth had to be confusing. Sure enough, my dawyck purple beech thinks it's spring. Problem is, not long after I took some pictures, winter arrived in full swing. I don't think the temperature has risen much above freezing in two weeks. Still, I have faith that my beech will survive. I'll take another look later this week; one radio station is calling for a blizzard. Oh bother.
Photograph of the week.
12:12 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.