First in a series of photo blogs as we work through winter pruning in preparation for Spring 2020 shipping.
Ending the year with a final group of photos from our summer 2019 tours of our liner vendors. Merry Christmas and Happy New year to everyone.. See you in 2020!
For December, we’re featuring one of our finest native species for winter interest—the common winterberry (Ilex verticillata). Native to most of the northeastern third of the United States; from Wisconsin to Maine and south to the Carolinas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Ilex verticillata is a suckering large multi-stemmed shrub or small tree that finds a happy home in wet areas or in the shrub border. It typically grows 6 to 15 ft tall in its native environment with a spread equal to its height. In the wild, it is typically found in stream bottoms and in wetlands, but tolerates drier conditions in the garden with supplemental watering during long dry spells.
Ilex verticillata has small dark-green elliptical leaves, typically 2-3” long. These leaves usually turn bright golden-yellow in autumn. Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers appear in late spring. Properly pollinated, these flowers give rise to numerous ¼” berry-like fruits that closely hug the stems through the winter. Like most hollies, Ilex verticillata plants are of separate sexes, so a nearby male plant is necessary for fruit set on the female. But unlike typical hollies, winterberry is deciduous, which only helps to further enhance the display of bright red fruits after leaf fall. These fruits are a favorite of native songbirds. The smooth, grey bark provides a nice backdrop to the fruit display. Tea from the colorful fruits was used as a fever remedy by Native Americans, but can cause nausea and low blood pressure if consumed raw.
In the landscape, winterberry is ideal for swales and drainage areas and works well in the shrub border where it serves as an ideal background to colorful annuals and perennials before coming into its own glory in autumn and early winter. It prefers full sun or very light shade at the edge of a woodland. It is virtually pest-free aside from occasional leafspot or leaf mildew during prolonged rainy spells. Like most water-loving plants, it prefers a neutral to acidic soil. It is relatively slow-growing and requires only occasional pruning in late winter to maintain shape.
White House Natives supplies Ilex verticillata in a range of sizes including 4 ft, 5 ft, 6 ft, and 7 ft. If you’re looking for a standout showy shrub for the winter garden, you can do no better!
SPRING-DUG; PLANTED IN SEPTEMBER
These spring-dug WHN Betula nigra (river birch) and Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum) found their way onto a job in September. Their viability and exceptional aesthetics several months after being dug this past spring and then stored above ground is a testament to their durability due to the quality of our digging process with the right size root ball..
Second of two posts highlighting our fall digging season which occured in late October/early November.
Another sampling of one of our liner vendors from our tours in August 2019.
First of two posts highlighting our fall digging season which began 24 October. Look for more photos in November!
One of the most up-and-coming native trees over the past twenty years is black gum or tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica). Native to the United States east of the Mississippi River as well as the Ozark Plateau and from the southern Great Lakes and southern New England to central Florida, Nyssa sylvatica is a versatile larger tree that thrives in a broad range of conditions. Typically growing 75 to 100 ft tall in its native environment with a straight central leader and a narrow crown of right-angled branches broadening with age, tupelo generally exhibits a more moderate height of 40-50 ft in the cultivated landscape, making an excellent specimen or focal point. In the wild, it can be found on dry upland slopes and even more frequently in moist valleys and riverbottoms. In fact, the common name ‘tupelo’ is a corruption of the Muscogee/Creek Native American phrase ito ‘tree’ and opilwa ‘swamp’ or swamp-tree. In mixed-tree settings, it favors the forest edge, so it likewise prefers full sun to light partial shade in the landscape setting. Tupelo also has the
distinction of being the longest-lived non-clonal woody plant in eastern North American, with some specimens documented at more than 650 years of age.
Nyssa sylvatica starts the spring with rusty-backed, bright greenish-yellow new growth that matures to very glossy, 2”-5” long dark-green leaves. The foliage is clean and free of most pests and diseases. It is typically one of the first trees to show color at the end of the season, with the first tinges often appearing by late August. Fall foliage is a kaleidoscope of colors, from brilliant gold and fiery orange to pure scarlet and purple. In winter, the deep-grey to black bark, finely plated like alligator skin, provides a striking contrast on snowy mornings. Flowers are a inconspicuous greenish-yellow, but are nectar-rich and loved by bees; they make an excellent honey. The flowers are followed by small, blue-skinned stone fruits, usually in groups of 1-3, which are beloved by many songbirds, especially the American Robin (Turdus migratorius). Tupelo develops a strong central taproot, so plants for landscape planting are best secured from container culture or B&B nurseries that do regular root pruning, such as WHN.
As a lumber tree, the wood of Nyssa sylvatica is hard, heavy, and very durable; its cross-grain structure makes it very resistant to splitting, especially when cured. These properties made it a favored wood for early turning parts, such as pulleys, rollers, wheel hubs and weaving shuttles as well as mauls, mallets, yokes and tool handles. In fact,
its usefulness as a striking tool lead to the local common name in southeast New England of ‘beetlebung’; beetle being an old word for a mallet used to hammer home bungs or plugs for barrels of beer or liquor. Its resistance to wear and acid made it a popular flooring material for factories. Today, it is still a favored material for wood-carvers due its tight grain and resistance to splintering.
White House Natives supplies Nyssa sylvatica in a range of sizes including 1½”, 2”, 2½” and 3” caliper. It is a beautiful, clean, and disease-free tree that makes a statement in any larger landscape.
A look at the nursery as we move into early autumn. All photos taken Sunday 6 October 2019.