Concern for the city trees

I’m not the only one who’s frantically worried about the state of our trees in and out of the city. I heard from a member of the Master Gardeners, Roberto Martello and a few others. Think of ideas about how we can help please. You can send them to me and I’ll pass them on to the right people. It we don’t rise up and help these old trees we’re going to have cities that look like they’ve been strip mined. We need to plant masses more, but more important we need TLC for what we’ve already got. In our area, developers have chopped down about 20 mature trees in two blocks and those are only the ones I know about. The weird winds we’re experiencing have taken out or damaged so many other old trees, the sound now is off machines dragging them off.

More cheerfully it’s so gorgeous and the soil is still warm, frost is a few weeks off, so I’m still mucking about digging things up. I’ve gone around the garden whacking away at stuff that I just can’t stand seeing fall over and only to look messy. I don’t like a lof of cleaning up in autumn but sometimes the neat freak gets to take over (this happens never happens in the house). Cutting back all species of Joe-Pye weed seems sensible. I don’t see either birds or anything else going after the seeds. And they look disreputable. But I leave most other stuff alone. I also want the garden to look really nice because I’m expecting guests from Victoria.

Valerie Murray is the director of the Abkhazi Garden in Victoria. It’s one of the most gorgeous places in the country. We once went there just as the sun was lowering and I cannot imagine a more romantic place. People like Valerie and her husband Bryan worked unbelievably hard to raise money for a foundation to save the garden from a developer’s intervention. Whew. They should be going all over the country showing us how to save what little respites we have left in our cities.

Valerie is also a superb gardener and many years ago I did a story for Gardening Life on her own garden. Soon it will be posted and you can go there and read about her. But technology as ever is really really slow. I’m still not up and running on the Mac; I?m still having trouble with sympatico.

Wanda sent in a good problem: she wants a terrific small tree to plant in front of a house that’s getting a lot of sun (ruling out a Japanese maple since it’s way too hot), and wonders about a fringe tree (Chinonanthus virginicus). Fringe Tree - Chinonanthus VirginicusIf there’s a picture with this blog it will be of that plant. It’s way underused and has foot long strand of white silk dangling from it’s branches like fine banners in spring (pendant panicles sez my encyclopaedia). Big luscious leaves the rest of the year. Mine’s in in partial shade and has taken many years to bloom. But my understanding is that it will grow in full sun. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s divine. I’m so crazy about mine that I’ll move it to a much more prominent spot next year (after bloom time). This is the case of another plant that will be more widely available if we demand it from nurseries. It’s an eastern native and a gorgeous specimen but there are species and cultivars that will grow on the west coast.


  • Tom Miller

    October 4, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Marjorie
    Your website and new blog are most interesting, informative and easy to use. Congrats.
    About the dying trees. I read an article in the Globe and Mail, last weekend I think, about the
    trees in Allen Garden being chewed up by squirrels because they could not get water. That’s because the garden in surrounded by streets. So there is a danger that major trees will be lost.
    It seems the parks people are just throwing up their hands and saying nothing can be done.
    Why not supply the squirrels with water by placing shallow containers of water here
    and there in the park. Surely the cost of changing the water every few days would be much
    less than the cost of losing large trees. I suppose vandalism could be a problem but there must be some way to control this problem. Maybe by putting the basins six feet or more off
    the ground. Just a thought.

  • mlwriter

    October 4, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Marjorie!
    Coincidentally, I ran into some arborists from Shady Lane tending to a scorched birch tree in the west end of the city today. We talked about the drought this summer and the dreadful impact on the trees, visible everywhere. One arborist pointed to a brown-leafed chestnut tree across the street and said “It’s got leaf scorch, but should be fine next year if it gets some rain.,” He felt that most of the damage we’re seeing is temporary, but if dry weather continues for several years, we’ll gradually see our “local” trees move north, and southern trees will slowly take their place —trees like, I think he said, sycamore. He did say that there were similar drought years in the first decade of the 20th century, and again in the 1920s, so this MAY be a natural cycle.
    I’m inclined to think we’re dealing with a planetary issue and that watering our local trees is not really the answer — we have to face more drastic and far-reaching changes.
    Note to fellow gardeners: Why not put a link to this blog on other garden sites you happen to visit? Many gardeners would love to read Marjorie’s thoughts and observations!!!! Spread the word!


  • sonia day

    October 10, 2007 at 11:56 am

    I’m very impressed by the blog. I hope you get loads of people reading it. I guess you will, once the word gets out. Maybe I will learn to like blogs eventually myself ( I’m admittedly very slow to catch on to anything to do with computers, as I’ve grown to hate the damn things) They are certainly a wonderful way to answer gardeners’ questions. Here’s one from me: I’ve been out in the garden this morning, digging out all the blasted Artemisia Limelight, which I liked at first, but it has managed to spread like a demon this summer – into my day lilies, potentilla, sedums, ornamental grasses etc. Is there any way to keep this under control? Is it less invasive in shade? Or should I just throw the lot out?
    And do you find it’s worse than the regular Artemisia with the grey leaves? I do. The latter is behaving quite nicely in a dry bed with plume poppies (which are supposed to be terrible spreaders too, but not so far here.)

    I loved your comments about the politicians at the tree calendar launch, by the way! My sentiments exactly. It’s all very well to make nice noises about protecting trees, but let’s see some real action to stop developers chopping them down. Cheers, S