At the Nursery, 11 Jun 2020, part 2 of 2

Spring digging is long done, the planting of our new liners is complete and we’re on to pruning and maintaining our growing stock.  Photos taken 11 Jun 2020.

At the Nursery, 11 Jun 2020, part 1 of 2

Spring digging is long done, the planting of our new liners is complete and we’re on to pruning and maintaining our growing stock.  Photos taken 11 Jun 2020.

Featured Native: Basswood (Tilia americana)

Tilia americana, 2"

Tilia americana, 2″

Tilia americana, the basswood or American linden, is a medium to large deciduous tree, often growing to 80 to 100 ft tall in the wild.  It is native to east-central North America, from southern Manitoba and Minnesota south to Missouri, the eastward to the Atlantic Piedmont and northward to the Canadian Maritimes.  In its native range, basswood can be found in a variety of habitats, from stream valleys to rocky uplands, but it is most happy in fertile, moist lowlands in slightly alkaline soil.   Pyramidal in youth, given space and room to grow, it typically develops an upright oval crown surrounding a tall single leader.  Unlike many native trees, the American linden tends to retain lower branches as it matures, with those lower branches sweeping towards the ground then upward at the canopy’s edge. Also unlike many natives, it has a good tolerance for partial shade.

Tilia americana, flower buds

Tilia americana, flower buds

In the landscape, T. americana typically tops out at 40-60 feet with a spread of 35-45 feet.  It features 4-8” long-deep green heart-shaped leaves that typically turn a pale yellow in autumn.   Late spring produces an abundance of 2-3” clusters of tiny pale-yellow flowers.   These flowers are extremely fragrant and a favorite of bees, so much that the tree itself can appear to buzz from the mass of bees feeding on the flower nectar.  The resultant linden honey is valued for its unique flavor. The flowers are followed by small grey nutlets which persist into early winter and are a favorite food of songbirds and squirrels. The bark is greenish-grey in color on young stems, turning medium-grey and becoming ridged and furrowed with age.  It is a good choice in a larger landscape, especially when given space for its roots to spread.  It is especially valuable for shade, as the leaf density of T. americana typically produces some of the densest shade of any native tree.  Adequate root space helps basswood to resist leaf scorch, which can affect exposed trees in hot, windy weather.  Tight planting spaces between sidewalk and street can often stress the tree, making it more susceptible to leaf scorch.   Aside from leaf scorch under stress, American linden is fairly resistant to pests; the leaves are a favored food of the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica), however, which can be unsightly during times of high beetle populations.,

Tilia americana, young bark detail

Tilia americana, young bark detail

The wood of T. americana is pale brown; often almost white and occasionally tinged with faint reddish streaks. It is close-grained yet light; these characteristics made it useful for the manufacture of boxes and baskets and also for guitar-making.   It is also a favorite of woodcarvers due to its resistance to splitting.  The inner bark of basswood is stringy and fibrous and was used by Native Americans and early European settlers for rope-making.  Tea made from the leaves was also used as an anti-inflammatory and a mild sedative.

Tilia americana, new growth

Tilia americana, new growth

White House Natives supplies Tilia americana in 2”and 2½” caliper.   If you need a large tree that produces great shade, it is an excellent choice!

 

 

 

 

At the Nursery, 29 May 2020

The “slow” spring continues, with several frosts in early May, but the recent warm weather is pushing things along.  Here, the progress of some of our younger stock.  Photos taken 29 May 2020.

WHN in the Landscape; 4 May 2020

WOODSON RESERVE

White House Natives [WHN] was chosen to supply several hundred two-inch caliper native trees for this project in the heart of Fairfax County, Virginia. Species included: Acer rubrum, Carpinus caroliniana, Chionanthus virginicus, Fagus grandifolia, Liriodendron tulipifera, Magnolia virginiana, Platanus occidentalis, and Quercus bicolor. These trees have been integrated into a buffer planting and reforestation along an asphalt walking trail that connects to the Fairfax County park system trails. We are proud to help provide native trees for this community and to support habitat for wildlife in this urban environment.

 

 

Breaking Bud 2020, pt 2 of 2

Now more than ever, spring is a good time to appreciate the little things like trees breaking bud and leafing out. All the hard work from the extensive hand-pruning last winter is now taking center stage and our trees are exploding with new growth in an array of colors, shapes and textures.  Photos taken 5 Apr 2020.

Featured Native: Bottlebrush Buckeye (Æsculus parviflora)

Æsculus parviflora, new growth

For April, we are featuring an under-used performer for the shrub border or high-canopied shady areas, the bottlebrush buckeye, Æsculus parviflora.  One of eight species of buckeye native to North America, it occupies a relatively small native range from the Savannah River west across central Georgia and Alabama and south to the Florida panhandle, but easily adapts to cooler climates as far north as Chicago and Portland, Maine.

Æsculus parviflora, leaf detail

Æsculus parviflora, leaf detail

In its native mid-south, Æ. parviflora form dense stands along bluffs and ravines and in high-shaded forests.  Typically maturing at 8 to 12 feet in height, it tends to slowly spread laterally by suckering so that a single individual may cover 25 feet in width at maturity. In the landscape, the coarse texture and smooth light grey bark make an excellent backdrop for smaller shrubs and perennials.   Like most buckeyes, leaves emerge from large buds relatively late in the season; the large, palmate leaves with 5 to 7 leaflets usually provide a dense dark-green cover to the shrub from the ground up.  The showy white flowers, peppered with red anthers, are produced in cylindrical bottlebrush-like spires up to a foot long in early summer when few other plants are in flower. The foliage usually turns a clear butter yellow in early autumn.  Unlike in its native range, Æ. parviflora rarely sets fruit in the landscape.

Æsculus parviflora, flowers

Æsculus parviflora, flowers

As a landscape plant, bottlebrush buckeye is low-maintenance.  Pruning is rarely required and although suckering, the shrub spreads slowly so that unwanted new shoots can be easily removed.  It has no significant pests, although it can suffer from leaf scorch in prolonged periods of hot, dry weather.  It prefers a moist, well-drained soil in full sun, but is also very tolerant of light shade and can perform well in drier situations if regularly watered for the first few years while becoming established.

Æsculus parviflora, 8 ft B&B

Æsculus parviflora, flowers

Like their closest relatives, the maples (Acer); buckeyes contain saponins in their leaves and fruit.  Saponins are defensive compounds that impart a bitter taste thus discouraging browsing.  They are also especially toxic to cold-blooded vertebrates; native Americans used the ground buckeye fruits and other saponin-containing plants to stun fish in ponds and other stagnant bodies of water.  Buckeye fruits (so-called because they are shiny brown with a yellowish attachment scar, much like a deer’s eye) were also commonly used in tanning leather.

White House Natives supplies Æsculus parviflora in sizes from 3 ft to 6 ft.   It is a deserving native that can be a welcome addition to the shrub border.