One of the great things about smart phones is that there are apps for many garden-related activities. But there don’t seem to be many apps for homeowners and green professionals who want to design a rain garden. As I write this, a … Continue reading
Recycling plastic plant containers is a big issue for many towns, cities and states, not to mention many green-minded gardeners. The lack of an industry-wide standard for container sizes, coupled with an absence of any recycling guidelines for consumers, has … Continue reading
Fortunately, I’ve been quite busy this year with my garden design business, working on projects both large and not-so-large. I thought I’d show you a video I created with photos of a front foundation makeover project in New Canaan, CT. I’d … Continue reading
Lately I’ve been finding that some of previously well-behaved shrubs in my Connecticut garden are becoming garden thugs – freely re-seeding all over the garden. I’ve been noticing an abundance of Japanese spirea (Spiraea japonica and Spiraea x bumalda) seedlings that seem to pop up almost overnight.
Like several other widely available and widely planted shrubs, some that are probably in your garden right now, Japanese spirea seems to be in a no-man’s land that can last for years. Caught between clearly demonstrating invasive behaviors and officially being placed on my state’s invasive plat list.
To find out more about ways to identify and deal with potentially invasive plants in your own garden, please read my latest post over at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens, Dealing with Potentially Invasive Plants.
In a recent post about the devastating impact trees have had recently on the lives of many Connecticut residents , Re-Thinking Connecticut’s Street Trees, I mentioned that work was being done on revising an outdated list of appropriate street trees for Connecticut.
The new list, which would include trees with smaller mature statures, would be one facet of the state’s long term plan to begin to mitigate the effects of street trees falling on power lines during storms.
The problem with the outdated list was that it was used by many as a trusted reference for trees that were supposed to be beneficial and worthy of planting here in Connecticut. As it turns out, many of the those trees were simply inappropriate to plant so close to utility lines and some were even on the Connecticut invasive plant list.
New Guidance and Inspiration
Connecticut homeowners, and our towns and cities, now have an update list of trees and shrubs that are appropriate for planting near the street and utility wires. This is a timely resource for anyone who is thinking about replacing a tree(s) lost in the recent storms.
The new list of Connecticut street trees, Trees with Short Mature Heights, is a collaboration by Connecticut College and the Connecticut Agriculture Station. It includes over 40 trees and shrubs that are appropriate choices for planting near the street or power lines since they should not grow to more than 30′ tall.
I’m pleased to see that so many trees and shrubs native to eastern North America are included on the list.
I’m hoping this means some of the more difficult to find native trees, like fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) and pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) will become much more readily available in Connecticut garden centers.
If you lived in Connecticut in 2011, chances are trees had a major impact on your life, in one way or another.
Between Tropical Storm Irene and the freak October snowstorm, if you didn’t lose a tree in your garden, you probably lost power when a tree, or part of a tree, fell on the power lines.
If a Tree Falls on a Power Line…
The impact of falling trees on power lines was so severe in our area that a report, Connecticut’s Street Trees: A Preliminary Analysis was prepared for Governor Malloy’s ‘Two Storm Panel’ that looked at how to mitigate the effects of future storms on the state.
The Connecticut’s Street Trees report was prepared by Jeffrey Ward, PhD, Chief Scientist, Forestry and Horticulture at CAES (Connecticut Agriculture and Experiment Station). The report extrapolated data on over 67,000 trees from 11 different cities in towns in Connecticut that had recently conducted an inventory of their street trees. My home town, Stamford, was one of the 11 cities.
The Report’s Findings
♦ It is estimated that there are over 1.1 million (yes, MILLION) street trees lining CT’s almost 21,000 miles of roads that are the responsibility of either your town, city or the state (depending on which roads they are located on) to maintain. No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of trees.
♦ Almost half of those trees are maples. (Nutmeggers saw for themselves that most of the trees that came down in the October snowstorm seemed to be maples.) The problem with maples, according to the Ward’s report, is that “maples are more likely than other species to have structural defects such as weak forks and cavities that make them prone to failure from high winds, heavy snows and thick ice”. YIKES!
♦ Over half of Connecticut’s street trees are big — with a trunk diameter over 12″ — which means they are old. And the older a tree is, the more likely it is to fall down during a storm.
♦ Current maintenance standards call for pruning of the trees adjacent to power lines. But it was often the trees behind those adjacent trees or the trees across the street that caused lots of the damage.
The Report’s Recommendations
♦ Trees with “shorter mature heights” should be planted near power lines. That means trees that will grow to less than 25′ feet tall.
♦ Replace existing “maples with other species where there is a potential for future disruption of the electrical system”.
♦ Consider mandating that towns, cities and the state follow the recommendations by enacting municipal ordinances or even a state law.
I spoke with Dr. Ward about his report for an article I wrote for an upcoming issue of Connecticut Gardener magazine. He shared some other thoughts on how Connecticut homeowners can help.
♦ Evaluate your existing trees and check for signs of damage from past storms, insects or other pests. If in doubt, contact a licensed arborist for advice on how to proceed.
♦ If you are planting a tree near a power line, don’t plant the trunk directly under the lines. Try to keep the branches of the trees about 8′ away from power lines.
♦ Don’t be afraid to plant large trees (those over 40′ tall), just don’t plant them near the street. If you are fortunate enough to have the space for a large tree, Ward suggests planting an oak (Quercus) or even one of our native maple trees, sugar maple (Acer saccharum) or red maple (Acer rubrum). (Planting maples is OK, just site them properly and watch them to make sure they stay healthy.)
♦ Prune your trees when they are young and their limbs are under 1″ thick. This way, you can do the pruning yourself (you’ll save some $$). Limb up trees to about 15′ off the ground. This will allow you to mow or walk under them and will help ensure the tree stay healthy for future generations.
Recommended Street Trees for Connecticut
Dr. Ward is working with Glenn Dryer of Connecticut College to compile a new list of recommended street trees for Connecticut. Old lists have trees that are too tall, susceptible to diseases, or, in the case of Callery pear, now considered potentially invasive. I’m looking forward to seeing the revised list once it’s available because it will undoubtedly impact not only what we will see on our streets but also in our nurseries.
So what should you do now if you need to replace a tree lost in a storm? Visit your local independent nursery and ask for recommendations for appropriate street trees for Connecticut that have a mature height of 25′ or smaller.
Or, check out my suggestions for small trees for Connecticut gardens.
It was a snowy day here in Stamford, CT so most people stayed inside and took it easy. But the bird feeder was like Grand Central Station all day long.
By the way, this is the view of my wildlife-friendly garden from my office window…it’s a wonder I get any work done at all.
Don’t you love the way the birds are ‘stacked’ in the branches of the Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ’Contorta’) just waiting their turns to get something to eat?
Sorry for the poor quality of the photo, I took it through the window.
Over on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens , I published a post about six great plants, some are annuals and some are perennials in my Connecticut garden (zone 6), for attracting beneficial insects to your garden.
Creating more habitat for birds, butterflies and bees is really easy. You can even combine these plants and create your very own habitat planter.
Drum Roll Please…
What exactly are the 6 plants for attracting beneficial insects to your garden? Here’s a quick peek…
Visit Native Plans & Wildlife Gardens to find out about the 6 plants for attracting beneficial insects to your garden and how to best use them in your garden.
Adding more native plants to your garden, regardless of whether you garden in Connecticut, Florida, Texas, California or somewhere in between, is a great way to make your garden more sustainable, eco-friendly and attractive to local wildlife.
At first blush, it can seem overwhelming to choose between all the available native plants. My advice is to focus on adding at least one native plant that will add interest to your garden each month.
Here’s a year’s worth of native plants that are appropriate for Connecticut and New England gardeners…
January ~ Rosebay rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum)
February ~ Coast leucothoe (Leucothoe axillaris)
March ~ John’s Find white pine (Pinus strobus ‘John’s Find’)
April ~ Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
May ~ Golden Shadows pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia ‘Golden Shadows’)
June ~ Blue muffin viburnum (Viburnum dentatum ‘Blue Muffin’)
July ~ Gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
August ~ Ruby spice summersweet (Clethra alternifolia ‘Ruby Spice’)
September ~ Chocolate Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’)
October ~ Invincibelle Spirit smoothleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Invincibelle Spirit)
November ~ American holly (Ilex opaca)
December ~ Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
What native plants are you planning to add to your garden in the coming year?