Tag Archives: arbor day

Arbor day in December

We’ve had some pretty warm days this past week so I thought it would be a great opportunity to plant some seeds that I’ve collected this past autumn.  I had the kids help me collect a five gallon bucket of black walnuts, and I harvested all my bee balm and redbud seeds.

Three containers to plant. The blue bucket holds redbud seedpods, the coffee can holds bee balm seed heads, and the large white bucket is filled with black walnuts which are already losing their husks. I recommend wearing disposable gloves when handling them.

I took a walk up to the big woods to sow some redbud a couple of weeks ago.  This is a beautiful understory tree with pinkish-purple flowers in the spring and heart-shaped leaves the rest of the year.  You barely even notice the tree when it is not in bloom. It seems to grow well wherever dogwood will grow.  We have lots of dogwood but no redbud except in the yard.  I collected all the seed pods that I could (a two gallon bucket) and sowed half of them up in the big woods.

The beautiful redbud is an understory tree, totally hidden most of the year but adding a brilliant touch to the woods in the spring.

This week I sowed the remainder in the second-growth timber on the west side of the property.  I crushed the pods by hand and just scattered them as I walked through the trees.  I’m sure some will take eventually.

Also, this past fall, I collected all the bee balm seed heads that I could find.  I got a coffee can full.  I had noticed earlier this summer that the bee balm that I scattered along the road frontage few years ago had made a nice stand of flowers.  Our pollinators always need some more help so I thought this would be a good thing.  These seeds I scattered in the west second growth timber, along the lane and more road frontage.  We’ll see. 

Bee balm is in the mint family and is a favorite of pollinators. Easy to grow.

The walnuts are a different matter.  These are black walnuts and, as I reported earlier this fall, they can make quite a mess in the yard.  Highly desired by cooks and very expensive to buy in the store, the trees can be very prolific as they were this year.  We had walnuts everywhere.  The trees also emit a chemical called juglone which is often poisonous to other plants nearby.  Not counting the mess.  I thought if I could get some to grow elsewhere on the property, then we might remove the trees close to the house.  In past years, local youth groups would come and pick up the nuts and take them to the mill for money.  We were happy; it helped them and they helped us.

So earlier this week I took a walk carting a heavy bucket of black walnuts and a shovel.  I planted some and others I just tossed out.  The squirrels do a great job of planting the nuts.  An arborist friend said they do just as well to be scattered as actually planted.

So later this week, I took the remainder of the big bucket of nuts and scattered them in the woods to the north of our house.  We have some oak growing there but plenty of room for more trees.  We’ll see.

Looks like some cold weather moving in again so I won’t be planting any more bulbs or nuts or seeds this fall.  I would be happy if even ten percent of what I sowed this fall comes up.  That will make a difference.  And help in my fight against the invaders of honeysuckle, multi-flora roses, Russian olives and privet. 

It was nice to see that the Virginia pine trees that we planted over thirty years ago are now tall trees.  But most of the white pine were eaten by the deer.  Well, somebody benefits in the long run.

If you’d like to learn more about planting trees, I highly recommend the book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohleben.  I asked my local library to order this book last year.  They were a bit skeptical and thought it would have limited interest.  However, I was recently told that the book has been off the shelf ever since they got it in.  Now it is in audio format, too.