A Sacred Trio – The Oak, Ash and Thorn

  • Post published:January 19, 2019

Trees have been growing on our planet for about 390 years, in what is called the Middle-Late Devonian period. Those trees did not look much like the trees in our woods today, but they did meet a definition that paleontologists use describing a tree as a plant with a single stem that can attain larger heights because they have specialized cells. Trees were small back then. Nowadays we know how big the family of trees has become, and…

Planting Trees, Planting Love at Energy Park

  • Post published:August 17, 2018

Planting trees is always a significant project. A couple of weeks ago I went over to the Energy Park at 7 a.m. for what I thought was a celebratory tree planting. I was surprised that there was no crowd; however Nancy Hazard, Mary Chicoine and John Bottomley, all of the Greenfield Tree Committee, were hard at work planting two tulip poplars and a disease resistant elm. It did not take a crowd to make this a celebratory occasion.…

Trees, Caterpillars and Butterflies in the Backyard

  • Post published:February 19, 2018

I have trees, caterpillars and butterflies and other pollinators in my backyard. Trees provide us with many environmental services. The obvious benefit is cooling shade. When we visited friends in Sacremento we learned that the Sacremento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) was putting trees on residential properties to cool the houses and lower the cost of power. Other benefits are not so obvious. They filter our air, take in carbon and breathe out oxygen. They filter water to protect…

Conversation of Trees

  • Post published:April 8, 2017

Recently at the Greenfield Library I saw a small book on the best seller shelf, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World. It looked like a quiet book with its creamy cover and drawing of three trees, with roots gently touching. The idea that plants can hear and talk is not new. I know of experiments with classroom or greenhouse plants, providing classical or rock music, talking to…

Underutilized Trees and Shrubs

  • Post published:March 31, 2017

Jay Vinskey gave a useful workshop on Underutilized Trees and Shrubs at the WMMGA Spring Garden Symposium last weekend. I attended because I may not be quite finished choosing shrubs for our new Greenfield garden and I was looking for more suggestions. Small trees and shrubs are the elements I am counting on to make this a sustainable, low maintenance garden. Vinskey’s list included trees like paperbark maple, tupelo, ironwood, redbud, stewartia, and pagoda dogwood. His shrub list…

Green Barriers for Function and Beauty

  • Post published:October 23, 2016

Recently a friend asked if I had any suggestions for creating a sound barrier in front of his house. My first idea was arborvitae. These neat symmetrical conifers are popular because they are not only handsome, but because they are low maintenance plants. They are hardy, not fussy about soil, are fairly salt tolerant and once they are established they are drought tolerant. They also tolerate some shade but need at least four hours of sun. Two easily…

Choose Plantings for Your Favorite View

  • Post published:July 2, 2016

Do you have a favorite chair? Is it near a window? Does your dining table sit near a window? Do you enjoy the view from your window? Oddly, our new house in Greenfield does not have many windows that look out at the garden. Only one upstairs window (in my office) gives a view of the back yard. The kitchen window is too high to see much of anything except the most westerly area of the garden. Fortunately…

Christmas Trees – Large and Small

  • Post published:January 3, 2016

One of the very first things I liked about our new house, or more specifically our new yard, was the very tall evergreen in the northwestern corner. It is a magnificent tree that might be 30 feet tall with graceful pendulous branches. On our first drive past the house I admired this beautiful tree in the backyard. It is not like any tree we had in view in Heath. There most of the conifers are pines or hemlocks.…

American Sycamore

  • Post published:November 13, 2015

  One of the blessings of our new Greenfield house is the tall and majestic American sycamore which gives the front of the house shade and helps cool it in summer. My husband Henry and I have never had such a large domestic tree. New York’s residential trees cannot be too big, and the big trees in Heath were nowhere near the house. They were wild trees in the woods. We were told that the tree was a…

Made in the Shade Garden

  • Post published:September 12, 2015

Julie Abramson now lives with a graceful shade garden, but it was not always so. Like so many of us, Julie never had much interest in her mother’s garden when she was young, but over the years she has tended three very different gardens of her own. Her first garden in Albany was cheerful. “I was inexperienced, but this garden was very floriferous. I knew nothing about trees and shrubs,” she told me as we sat admiring her…