October in the Garden—A To Do List

This guide is tailored for the western valleys of Oregon and Washington. 

YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by being a good steward of the spot on this earth that you are privileged to be borrowing for a time—your garden. Nathan, the Treevangelist, urges you to treat your spot on this planet like your own personal Garden of Eden paradise. Then notice the joy that it will bring to you! This is your divinely mandated responsibility.  Your trees, shrubs, flowers and the wildlife in your yard will express their smiling appreciation back to you and to others as they radiate love, joy and beauty bursting forth with vibrant and verdant life. Below is a to do list to help you to do just that.

October with the advent of cooler weather is a transition time for the garden as plants begin to prepare for winter. Autumn in the Pacific Northwest is the time when many trees and shrubs are bursting forth—yes, even shouting—with a brilliant menagerie of vibrant autumn colors. This occurs each fall as the trees’ green chlorophyll abandon their leaves in its descent into the trunk and roots where it will be stored waiting out the winter ready to be called upon in the spring to empower a foliar awakening. Left behind are the red, yellow and orange carotenoids colors to finally reveal their presence, which has been in the leaves all along being over-powered by the green chlorophyll. Relish the fall colors along with the crisp morning and mildly warm days sprinkled with occasional rain showers to help restore the verdure of the flora from the brownish overtones of a long, hot and dry summer.

Readers’ suggestions on how to improve this list are gladly solicited. If you, the reader, have any suggestions for additions to this month’s list, please put them in the comments section of this article, and I will add them to the list. Thank you in advance! — Nathan

Tree and Shrub Care

  • Fruit trees: This is an excellent time to prune trees that are done fruiting, since wounds will heal more quickly in warmer weather than occurs in winter. This is also a good time to reduce the height of overgrown fruit trees, since they are likely to produce fewer water sprouts now then when pruned in the spring. 
  • Large trees: After each major weather event, check your trees for damage such as broken or hanging limbs. If you have concerns or questions about your trees, have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for damage or the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. 
  • Mulch: Apply two to three inches of mulch around all trees and ornamental shrubs. This helps to fertilize the plants and feed the soil, and also protects them against weed growth and loss of water when the warmer  weather returns, and helps to insulate the roots against cold weather in the winter.
  • Pines—pruning: During the cooler fall, winter and spring seasons is the best time to prune pine trees. For those into Japanese style pruning, this is the time to bud prune.
  • Pruning of trees and shrubs: You can do all aesthetic pruning of all ornamental shrubs and trees (except pines) at any time of the year in most cases. 
  • Pruning of large trees: Most trees in the temperate western valleys of Oregon and Washington can be pruned anytime of the year. If you’re not sure what to do, or how to do it, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a consultation, pruning lessons or to have us do the pruning for you. It is likely best to wait for cooler weather to prune stressed or sick looking trees or to do major pruning on trees. Call us if you have questions about this. Heavy pruning of some trees in the summer, especially conifers, can weaken or even kill them.
  • Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long. 
  • Trees—Storm Issues: With the advent of winter storms and the potential damage that they may inflict upon your trees, have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This can be done anytime of the year, but now, before the winter storms hit, is an excellent time to proactive assess the condition of your trees for potential limb and trunk breakage.

Plant Health Care

  • Arborvitae Berckmann’s Blight (Platycladus orientalis): Spray with copper twice in the fall (late Sept. and early Oct., and again in early Nov. Spray again in early spring (Feb to Mar) if disease is severe. 
  • Deep Root Fertilization: Deep root fertilize your trees and shrubs to promote healthy root development in preparation for next springs growing cycle.
  • Magnolia Bacterial Blight: If your magnolia bush or tree has blighted leaves and flowers (dark, irregular spots) and the new shoots wilt and die in the spring, it may be magnolia bacteria blight. To treat, the magnolia needs to be sprayed once in the fall and twice in the spring near bud break.
  • Maples (including Japanese maples): Monitor the leaves of all maples and some other trees and shrubs for symptoms of the potentially lethal verticillium wilt fungal disease. If you see major branch dieback, call GNTS, Inc. for a free evaluation.
  • Verticillium Wilt: The fall is the best time to treat your plants against this disease, and spring is the second  best time. Maples are especially plagued by this disease. During hot weather, symptoms include smaller than normal cupped leaves in the upper canopy, often with the death of the entire branch occurring. Maples are the hardest hit trees by this disease. Other trees susceptible to this persistent and potentially lethal fungal root disease include ash, box elder, golden rain tree, mountain ash, prunus spp. (cherry and plum), redbud, tree of heaven or silk tree, southern magnolia, tulip tree.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like hostas. 
  • Apply two to three inches of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) on all of your shrub beds. Covering bare dirt areas in your yard with mulch helps to prevent soil compaction from rains, and weed growth, and helps to enrich our heavy clay soils.
  • Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. Bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. Birds in the yard are not only fun to watch, but they perform the vital task of eating harmful insects. Keep bird baths full. In hot and dry weather, birds need water to drink and to bathe in.
  • This is a good time of the year to plant trees and shrubs. Visit your local nursery and select your favorite ornamental shrubs and shade trees. After planting your new shrubs, just make sure that you water them well immediately and regularly subsequently for the first two or three summers until their roots get established. 
  • Fertilize your lawn. The cooler, wetter fall weather is also an excellent time to overseed your lawn to fill in the thin and bare areas.

Botanical Gardens of England, Guernsey, Ireland, Scotland & Paris

This video chronicles my recent trip to the British Isles and Ireland where I visited numerous botanical gardens and natural wild areas including the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew near London, Blarney Castle Gardens in Ireland, Powerscourt Estate Gardens in Ireland, the Antrim Coast and Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, Dunrobin Castle gardens in northern Scotland, Holyrood Castle gardens in Edinburg, Scotland plus gardens in Paris. Please enjoy.

Wilsonville’s Willamette River Historic Log Raft Cable Trees

Recently, the City of Wilsonville, as spearheaded by Wilsonville City Councilor and former Wilsonville mayor Charlotte Lehan, placed a Oregon historical marker in Wilsonville’s Memorial Park honoring several cable trees on the banks of the Willamette River as State of Oregon Heritage Trees.

So what is a cable tree?

Years ago when logging was the main driver in Oregon’s economy making this state the number one timber producer in the U.S., huge numbers of trees (billions of board feet per year) were being logged out of local forests each year. In many cases, the most economical way to get logs from the forest to the sawmill was to floats them down rivers like the Willamette. Huge log rafts would be created and then cabled and chained together and pulled downriver by tugboats where they would be tied up to trees (and sometimes pilings) along the riverbank waiting their turn to be hauled to the sawmill.

I still remember in the 1960s and 1970s seeing tugboats pulling enormous log rafts through downtown Portland’s Willamette River. It was a common sight that we took for granted. It wasn’t unusual to see multiple log rafts tied up near Ross Island along the river bank. Today when you travel up the Columbia River, or along some of Oregon’s coastal rivers, you can still see many old, rotting pilings that were used for that purpose decades ago. Such practices were part of Oregon’s illustrious logging history.

Today, many of these old anchor trees are still visible, including several along the Willamette River in Wilsonville. The scars from the cables can still be clearly seen in some trees, and other trees even have remnants of old cables and other hardware imbedded in them that the trees have often grown around.

Please enjoy the photos of some of these historical Wilsonville trees.

This historical marker is located in Wilsonville’s Memorial Park about 150 feet to the right of the path that goes down to the public boat dock area.
This historic cottonwood cable tree is located in Wilsonville’s Memorial Park downriver a few hundred yards from the public boat dock.
This historic cottonwood cable tree is located in Wilsonville’s Memorial Park downriver a few hundred yards from the public boat dock.
This historic Douglas fir cable tree is located in Wilsonville’s Memorial Park about 150 feet to the right of the path that leads down to the public boat dock.
This Douglas fir cable tree is located across the river from Memorial Park in the Charbonneau District area.

Free Resources to Help You Appreciate & Care for Your Trees

Example of aesthetic pruning by Good News Tree Service, Inc. of Wilsonville, Oregon

Arbor Day Foundation at arborday.org

10 Reasons to Plant Trees— https://www.arborday.org/media/print/

Good Clean Water: Tree City USAhttps://www.arborday.org/media/print/documents/2010-tree-city-usa.pdf

International Society of Aboriculture at treesaregood.org

Benefits of Trees— http://www.treesaregood.org/portals/0/docs/treecare/benefits_trees.pdf

Tree Values— http://www.treesaregood.org/portals/0/docs/treecare/TreeValues.pdf

Tree Selection— http://www.treesaregood.org/portals/0/docs/treecare/TreeSelection.pdf

Buying Quality Trees— http://www.treesaregood.org/portals/0/docs/treecare/buying_qualitytrees.pdf

Plant Health Care— http://www.treesaregood.org/portals/0/docs/treecare/PlantHealthCare.pdf

New Tree Planting— http://www.treesaregood.org/portals/0/docs/treecare/New_TreePlanting.pdf

Oregon Department of Forestry at oregon.gov/odf/Pages/index.aspx

Homeowners Guide to Tree Care— https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Documents/ForestBenefits/HomeownersGuidetoTreeCare.pdf

Example of aesthetic pruning by Good News Tree Service, Inc. of Wilsonville, Oregon
Example of pruning by Good News Tree Service, Inc. of Wilsonville, Oregon


September in the Garden—A To Do List

This guide is tailored for the western valleys of Oregon and Washington. 

YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by being a good steward of the spot on this earth that you are privileged to be borrowing for a time—your garden. Nathan, the Treevangelist, urges you to treat your spot on this planet like your own personal Garden of Eden paradise. Then notice the joy that it will bring to you! This is your Divinely mandated responsibility.  Your trees, shrubs, flowers and the wildlife in your yard will express their smiling appreciation back to you as they radiate love,  joy and beauty bursting forth with vibrant and verdant life. Here is a to do list to help you to do just that…

Readers’ suggestions on how to improve this list are gladly solicited. If you, the reader, have any suggestions for additions to this month’s list, please put them in the comments section of this article, and I will add them to the list. Thank you in advance! — Nathan

Tree and Shrub Care

  • Fruit trees: This is an optimal time to prune trees that are done fruiting, since wounds will heal more quickly in warm weather. This is a good time to reduce the height of overgrown fruit trees, since they are likely to produce fewer water sprouts now then when pruned in the spring. 
  • Maples (including Japanese maples): Monitor the leaves of all maples and other trees and shrubs for symptoms of the potentially lethal verticillium wilt fungal disease. If you see major branch dieback, call GNTS, Inc. for a free evaluation.
  • Mulch: Apply two to three inches of mulch around all trees and ornamental shrubs. This helps to fertilize the plants and feed the soil, and also protects them against weed growth and loss of water when the warmer  weather returns.
  • Pines: Once the hot weather has passed, you can begin to prune your pines.
  • Pruning of trees and shrubs: You can do all aesthetic pruning of all ornamental shrubs and trees (except pines) at any time of the year including summer. Don’t over-prune the top crowns of thin barked trees (e.g. Japanese maples, flowering cherries), since the sun’s UV rays can cause trunk and branch bark dessication resulting in cracking and dieback of sapwood and even heartwood resulting in entry points for diseases and potential structural failure of branches and trunks.
  • Pruning of large trees: Most trees in the temperate western valleys of Oregon and Washington can be pruned anytime of the year. If you’re not sure what to do, or how to do it, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a consultation, pruning lessons or to have them do the pruning for you. It is likely best to wait for cooler weather to prune stressed or sick looking trees. Call us if you have questions about this.
  • Prune fast growing ornamental shrubs (e.g. laurel, privet, photinia, laurustinus, barberry) that are beginning to look shabby. You may need to prune them again in the early summer for a more neat and manicured look. 
  • Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long. 
  • Trees: Have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This can be done anytime of the year.

Plant Health Care

  • Arborvitae Berckmann’s Blight (Platycladus orientalis): Spray with copper twice in the fall (late Sept. and early Oct., and again in early Nov. Spray again in early spring (Feb to Mar) if disease is severe.
    Deep Root Fertilization: Deep root fertilize to promote healthy root development in preparation for next springs growing cycle.
  • Dogwood Anthracnose: If you missed the spring sprays topical fungal sprays,  and you see signs of anthracnose on your tree’s leaves (reddish, purplish, brownish splotches), you can spray your trees with a basal bark fungicide. Call GNTS, Inc. for information on this treatment.
  • Verticillium Wilt: The fall is the best time to treat, and spring is the second  best time. Maples are especially plagued by this disease. During hot weather, symptoms include smaller than normal cupped leaves in the upper canopy, often with the death of the entire branch occurring.

Elsewhere in the Garden

  • Put slug bait around your flowers and tender perennials like hostas. 
  • Apply two to three inches of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) on all of your shrub beds. Covering bare dirt areas in your yard with mulch helps to prevent soil compaction from rains, and weed growth, and helps to enrich our heavy clay soils.
  • Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
  • Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. Bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. Birds in the yard are not only fun to watch, but they perform the vital task of eating harmful insects. Keep bird baths full. In hot and dry weather, birds need water to drink and to bathe in.
  • This is a good time of the year to plant trees and shrubs. Visit your local nursery and select your favorite ornamental shrubs and shade trees. After planting your new shrubs, just make sure that you water them well immediately and regularly subsequently for the first two or three summers until their roots get established. During warm weather (in the 60s to low 80s), deep root water once per week. During hot weather (mid-80s and higher) deep root water at least twice per week.
  • Fertilize your lawn. The cooler, wetter fall weather is also an excellent time to overseed your lawn to fill in the thin and bare areas.

The Importance of Planting Right the Tree in the Right Place

Why is it important to plant the right tree in the right place as opposed to the wrong tree in the wrong place? Here are the reasons why:

Planting the Wrong Tree in the Wrong Place Is…

  • Aesthetically detrimental: The tree may outgrow it’s spot and come into conflict with buildings, roadways, and hurt or destroy landscapes and lawns thus reducing liveability of property and property values.
  • Expensive: A misplaced tree may have to be pruned or removed in the future at great expense and causing a negative environmental impact.
  • Damaging to infrastructure, which is expensive to repair: A misplaced tree may eventually cause infrastructure damage (to sidewalks, driveways, house foundations, underground utilities, lawns, landscape and irrigations systems).
  • Inconvenient: A misplaced tree may eventually block or cause damage to driveways, sidewalks, roadways, windows and street lights and come into conflict with buildings. Moreover, a misplaced tree may result in cracked foundations and patios, broken water pipes, clogged sewer pipes and rain drains, and come into conflict with and cause damage to roadways,  sidewalks, and overhead utility wires.
  • Environmentally detrimental: Having to remove a misplaced mature tree is not only a waste of financial resources and human energy, but it is detrimental to the environment. This because when a mature tree is removed, all the benefits a large tree provides humans and the environment are lost. 
  • Decreases liveability: Trees too large for the area will take over a small yard and decrease usability of the yard and make the yard appear smaller. 
  • Conflicts with neighbors: Misplaced trees often grow to where they are over-hanging neighbor’s property causing bad neighborly relations that may last for years. Some people may be forced to move because of this problem.
  • Decreases home value: Trees that are too large for the yard make the yard appear smaller than it really is.

Planting the Right tree in the Right Place Is Beneficial…

  • Aesthetically: A well placed tree enhances the landscape, the house and property.
  • Economically: A well placed tree saves on future tree care, and adds assessed value to one’s property.
  • Environmentally:
  • And it feels good, brings joy and pleasure to people because it’s the right tree in the right place

Proactive Tree Care

  • Placing the right tree in the right place is not only good for the planet and is the right thing to do, but it has many other benefits as well. This includes…
  • Saving money in the long run by properly caring for trees. Proactive or preventive tree care is always less expensive than crisis management tree care.
  • It makes sense economically and environmentally to care for a tree before it causes damage or is a hazard. This involves putting the right tree in the right spot to begin with and then properly caring for it along the way.
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Addressing Street and Front Yard Tree Issues in Cities

For many years, I have seen cities in my area planting the wrong street trees in the wrong places. This folly has been a boon to my tree service business, but, overall, removing perfectly good trees because they have been planted in the wrong place is a bad thing for the tree, for the environment and for people’s pocketbooks.

So yesterday, I had a meeting with a City of Wilsonville planner to discuss with him ways to improve street tree placement in our city and some strategies on how to preserve existing mal-placed street trees. Below were my talking points. It was an excellent meeting, and hopefully something good will come of it.— Nathan

All well-informed people agree that we need to plant trees for the benefit of the planet. All of our lives depend on it for many reasons. 

In Genesis 2:15, we read,

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

This is a standard English translation of this verse. If we look at the original Hebrew of this text that is behind the English, this verse could read,

Then the Yehovah Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend, serve, by implication to worship the Creator by taking care of and to keep, guard, protect, attend to, regard, preserve, reserve, save the garden.

This expanded translation sheds a whole new light on how the Creator expected man to take care of the environment. What it doesn’t say is to rape, pillage, recklessly exploit or indiscriminately remove trees from the garden!

Taking care of the garden (the earth) was the third command that the Creator gave to the first humans. Tree care and preservation is a divine mandate!

Even though my roots as a tree care professional go back more than 50 years, I started getting a clue about the importance tree preservation about 20 years ago when I began educating myself about tree preservation. Then about 12 years ago I became an ISA Certified Arborists and obtained my ODA Commercial Pesticide Applicators license and purchased the equipment to fertilize and care for ailing trees. I realized that we were removing too many trees that could be saved, so I learned how to save trees by returning them to health. Since then, we have saved hundreds of trees from the chain saw. HalleluYah!

It is our responsibility as stewards of the environment to plant the right tree in the right place, so that we don’t have to remove a valuable tree later.

The wrong tree in the wrong place causes no end of damage to hard surfaces (roads, driveways and sidewalks), for utilities (street lights, sewer and water pipes, irrigations systems), and this can result in thousands of dollars of damage to private and public property, potential legal liabilities for everyone, and thousands of dollars in tree mitigation including pruning, root cutting and removals, and, finally, often a perfectly good trees has to be removed resulting in one less oxygen-producing tree on planet earth all because people put the wrong tree in the wrong place.

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