Monday, October 27, 2014

The Best Laid Plans...

When a bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) tree estimated to be as much as 250 years old stood in the way of construction of a new building at the University of Michigan, officials laudably decided to move it rather than chop it down.  Estimated cost:  $400,000.

Their elaborate plan for moving the 700,000 lb behemoth included a spiffy computer animation... so you know it's going to work, right?


The words "KABOOM!"  and "projectile" should probably not be associated with transplanting trees.  In fact, moving trees should be almost entirely onomatopoeia free.  Thank goodness no one was hurt (although there's no mention of possibly hearing loss).

Stay tuned to for updates.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

White Oak Wedding

I was lucky enough to be married about 10 miles from Homer, Alaska on the shore of a gorgeous little lake with a cow moose and her twins grazing peacefully on the opposite shore.  The wedding was attended by five other people (including the minister), two of whom we had known for more than one day. I didn't think I'd ever be jealous of someone else's wedding setting.  I was wrong.  Getting married beneath an oak of that size and age would be spectacular. 

Hopefully the happy couple honored what I have read was a law in Middle Age Germany: Newly wedded couples were required to plant an oak tree, so that it would be mature enough to produce acorns when the couple's children were old enough to marry... so that young couples would have a ready source of food - yes, acorns as food - when they got married and started a family.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Great oak photos and info...

Tons of great stuff on this blog post.

Gobs of great info about Middle Eastern and other oaks I wasn't familiar with.  Gorgeous photos.  And some of the smartest things I have read about oaks outside of this blog.  For example,

"Many Oaks are both fast growing and an investment that will last for many centuries... 1 inch of fill during regrading can kill an Oak by suffocating the roots. Drip irrigation is not recommended. Water more than once a week can cause chlorosis or kill. Roundup on weeds surrounding an Oak is ok. The fact that Oaks like to be left alone may also be one of the highest qualities. They withstand drought and bad soil better than almost any other tree and on good sites can be very fast growing and extremely long lived. They add permanence to the landscape... Here are a few of the many types of Oaks that make awesome landscape plants." (Emphasis mine)

I love how he capitalizes Oak!  As it should be.

"Let it be an oak..."

Click here.  Scroll down to September 17, 2014.

I got into those whole whacky urban forestry caper back in the mid/late 80s because I believed that oaks were massively under planted.  They still are, but the tide is turning.

Today I got an email from a tree tube customer in Kansas.  He said he has now planted 12 different types of oaks on his property.  How awesome.

And (returning to the subject of the link above, instead of - as usual - making it all about me) on September 17  Trees Atlanta will host "Let it be an oak" at their office at 225 Chester Avenue, a program that will extol the virtues of oaks as landscape trees and encourage tree planters to choose oaks.  Super awesome.

Back in the 80s (to return to making this about me) I worked at a couple of different landscape garden centers in suburban Minneapolis/St. Paul.  The first one didn't even offer any oaks for sale, and the second one did but rarely sold any.  Too "messy" (those darn acorns, how dare they litter my lawn?).  To "slow growing."  Homeowners were obsessed with planting seedless green ash. 

Which has worked out really well for them.  On the plus side, I doubt very much that many of those seedless green ashes even lived long enough to be affected by EAB.

Well done Tree Atlanta!

Thanks for the tip Lucas.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A day no oak lover can afford to miss...

...except I will have to miss it.  And it's killing me.

The International Oak Society is holding an Oak Day in Mississippi hosted by Dudley Phelps, nursery manager for Mossy Oak's Nativ Nurseries.

Click here to learn more.

John Wooden was the most successful college basketball coach ever, leading UCLA to ten NCAA championships in a twelve year period.  He was known as the Wizard of Westwood.  When fans, sports radio hosts and especially rival coaches discuss Wooden, the argument always arises:  Was it Wooden's coaching or was it his players?  (As in, who wouldn't have won that many championships with Bill Walton, Lew Alcindor and the other amazing players he coached?)  Chicken, egg, who cares?  Fact is Wooden both got the players and he coached them to reach their fullest potential.  Bill Walton tells the story of his first practice under Coach Wooden.  What nuggets of wisdom would the Wizard bestow upon them?  What complex offensive strategy would he blow their young minds with?  Then Wooden proceeded to spend the first 20 minutes of practice discussing the proper way to tie a pair of basketball sneakers.

His point:  Details matter.  Details make all the difference between success and failure.

Dudley Phelps is the Wizard of West Point (as in West Point, Mississippi).  His accomplishments dwarf those of John Wooden.  Don't believe me?  Take a look.

(Click to enlarge)
 This is a white x overcup oak hybrid.  It was planted as a 20 inch tall seedling in March, 2011.  This photo was taken 7 months later, in October 2011.  The plastic tree tube is 4ft tall.  The tree is twice that.  Do the math (no seriously, I'm not good enough at math to calculate the growth).  Here's that same tree one year later, in October 2012.  It's a good two inches in caliper at the base.

(Click to enlarge)
Yes, that's 19 months - 2 growing seasons - after planting a 20 inch seedling.  
Fluke you say?  Take a gander at this:

(Click to enlarge)
He can make trees grow sideways!  Actually, blogger takes all vertical portrait format photos and turns them sideways and there doesn't seem to be a damn thing I can do about it.  Sorry about that.  Here's the story on this one. Chinese chestnut, planted as an 18 inch tall seedling in July, 2012.  Didn't grow at all above ground for the remainder of the 2012 growing season (although I'm sure the roots were busy).  This photo was taken in September of 2013.  Four foot tube.  Ten foot tree.  One (and a half) growing season.
Kind of puts 10 NCAA Championships to shame doesn't it?

So what's the secret, superior players (in this case planting stock) or superior coaching (planting methods and attention to detail)?  Both.  Dudley 'recruits' the players (identifies superior parent trees* and collects their seed), trains them (cultivates the nursery stock), and coaches them (plants and maintains them).  His attention to every detail of the process is what sets him apart.  Ask him how to plant a tree and he'll spend 20 minutes talking about preparing the soil months in advance - the arboreal equivalent of how to tie your shoes.  It's what makes him the Wizard of West Point.

* The longer I have been a sports fan the more I realize the importance of parentage; so many of the athletes I cheer for today are the sons and daughters - or in some cases grandchildren - of athletes I cheered for as a kid!

I would give up one or two non-essential limbs to be there for Oak Day.  Hope you can make it, and I hope it draws the kind of turn out it deserves - which is to say enough people to fill a stadium.  These days I'd way rather watch oaks grow than a basketball game - more action and fewer commercial.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reintroducing Acorns Into The Human Diet

Great article on what we've been advocating for years:  It's time for humans to rediscover the food that served as Staff of Life for much of our history.

Click here... in Scientific American!

How awesome is that?

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Massive Oaks of Costa Rica


Just, wow.  I am ambivalent about Eco-tourism.  I get the idea of creating economic value for ecosystems as ecosystems and not as natural resources/commodities.  It might, in the end, be the only way to conserve them within the economic realities of the world.  But I have a problem with consuming fossil fuels to go see natural wonders which are threatened/damaged by the consumption of fossil fuels.

But man, I'd love to go to Costa Rica and see these trees.

Scroll down.  Either that's a REALLY big acorn or the dude has a really small hand.

Thanks Lucas!

Have a great weekend everyone.