May / June Tree of the Month • Black Cherry

May / June Tree of the Month • Black Cherry

Prunus serotina  | Also called Wild Cherry or Rum Cherry

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA Certified Master Arborist

A large shade tree in our area of 60 feet tall, Black Cherry can grow to 100 feet where its “feet” are not standing in our heavy, clay, Illinois soil. Actually almost every tree species except Willow and Cottonwood grow 30% taller east of Lake Michigan due to the well drained, loose soil that accommodates tree roots so much better than prairie soil.

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Witches Broom

Witches Broom

It sounds medieval, or at least Harry Potteresque, I know, but take a look at the picture and you will agree, witches brooming is rightly named. Now, as you drive the expressways in the large northern cities you will begin to have the affliction that Lesley and I refer to as “the arborist’s eye”.  Be careful! Don’t take your eyes off the road, but you can begin to notice Witches Broom everywhere near heavy automobile traffic, especially in the winter when the leaves are notcovering up the ends of branches.

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Trees and Air Pollution

Mother Nature’s Moment - May/June 2017
by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

Gilbert has discussed the phenomenon of Witches Brooming on trees. It is essentially one of the trees’ reactions to pollution. But he did not mention the fact that one of the amazing and now proven facts about trees and air pollution is that most deciduous trees have an amazing capacity for absorbing our pollution.

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Tree Flowers of the Month

Tree Flowers of the Month

Tree of the Month - April 2017

by: ISA Certified Arborist Master Arborist, Gilbert A Smith and Certified Arborist, Lesley Bruce Smith

Right now every plant feels like it is flowering and the trees are at full flower strength too, Spring frolicking isn’t just for the birds and the bees. Much of that chartreuse green we see on the trees all over is not the expected new green leaves, so much as the tree flowers. There are, of course, the beautiful showy flowers of the Magnolias, Crabs, Redbuds, and Callery Pears that we love. But the less showy flowers that are bright green and sometimes less vibrant hues of pink or yellow are also in abundance this time of year. 

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Trees are Good for Us

Trees are Good for Us

April 2017 - Mother Nature’s Moment
by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

As someone who has just spent the last 2 years having to be VERY intentional about recovering from both a severe bicycle accident and a breast cancer diagnosis it seems fitting that I would write about the benefits of trees on our health.  

I’ve noticed a large number of people posting about Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, which became part of a national health program in Japan in 1982 and essentially just means being in the presence of trees.

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Interview with Indian Trail Marker Tree

Interview with Indian Trail Marker Tree

Tree of the Month - March 2017
by Gilbert A Smith, ISA Certified Master Arborist

I’m speaking with one of the oldest and wisest residents of Lake County Illinois. She lives in Deerfield beside the play ground on Carlisle Avenue and has stood in that place for more than 200 years. The trail marker tree was a sapling in the late 1700’s when she was selected to be a guide for the Potawatomi Indians.

Gil:  I’ve been coming here to visit you for more than 30years and you never seem to change. Why are you still here when most of the other trees in the area are less than half your age?

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Evergreen Trees Blown Down

Evergreen Trees Blown Down

BackYard Wisdom
by ISA Master Arborist, Gilbert A Smith

This month we had strong winds that blew several large evergreen trees down, like Fir, Douglas fir, and Spruce. Why did these trees stand for many years and then suddenly blow over? Our clients asked, “Why can’t the roots hold them up?” The answer is this: it is not a problem with the roots, it is a problem with the soil.

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Coming Back from the Ashes

Coming Back from the Ashes

Mother Nature’s Moment
by ISA Certified Arborist: Lesley Bruce Smith

As many of you know, I have just recently passed the one year mark of my breast cancer diagnosis.  I am happy to report that although the work is as yet unfinished, all my one year scans are clean and clear. This is good news and worth celebrating. Yahoo!

At the beginning of this journey I just kept thinking I wanted to “get back to normal”.

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The Trees Are Talking

The Trees Are Talking

October 2016, Backyard Wisdom
by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA Certified Master Arborist

For a few weeks in the early fall you may have noticed some trees partly or fully turning color ahead of their sisters in the same species. This is a trees’ way of communicating. Do you know what its saying?

“I am under extreme stress here! I’ve got to let my leaves go, even though they feed me because I can not support them any longer

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Chicago Spelmanslag performing at the Passport Europe Festival

Chicago Spelmanslag performing at the Passport Europe Festival

Take a trip around Europe at 2nd Annual Passport Europe Cultural Festival on September 24-25, 2016 at the Morton Arboretum.

No need for a passport, experience authentic music, dance, cuisine, and more in one weekend.

Chicago Spelmanslag will be performing 2-3 pm on the Bavarian Forest Stage (Picnic Area at Main Parking Lot).

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People are hugging trees because Ryan Reynolds asked them to, and it's great.

People are hugging trees because Ryan Reynolds asked them to, and it's great.

Reynolds is using his platform to get the word out on the One Tree Initiative, a campaign in support of American Forests.

The nonprofit runs a number of programs focused on everything from planting trees and protecting urban forests to awareness campaigns and advocating for public conservation policies.

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Tree of the Month • May 2016

Tree of the Month • May 2016

Eastern Redcedar •  Juniperus chinensis

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA certified Master Arborist

You may remember me saying in the past that there were no native evergreens in Northeast Illinois when European settlers arrived. If there were a native evergreen it would be the Redcedar. It’s really not a Cedar, it is a Juniper but it looked like a European Cedar tree in the 1500’s when explorers first named it. It’s also not a native. An inhabitant of the toughest places in the eastern forest it can’t stand prairie fires set by Mother Nature or the Native Americans. As soon as farmers plowed the prairie and suppressed fires, the Redcedar headed West of Lake Michigan. 

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Interview with a tree

Interview with a tree

Backyard Wisdom • May 2016
by Gilbert A. Smith, ISA Master Arborist

Gil: Mr. Redcedar lives near Daniel Wright Forest Preserve looking out over Milwaukee Avenue. I bet you’ve seen a lot of growth and change in your lifetime Mr. Redcedar.  

Red: It wasn’t so long ago that all around Milwaukee Road the prairie was plowed into farm fields. Yes, I’ve seen changes, but I thrive on change. Like your ancestors, I’m a pioneer. That means that when there’s a disturbance, like a road being built, I jump in and grow where other trees can’t. 

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Tree of the month | April 2016 • American Hop Hornbeam, Ironwood, Leverwood

Tree of the month | April 2016 • American Hop Hornbeam, Ironwood, Leverwood

American Hop Hornbeam, Ironwood, Leverwood
Ostrya virginiana  

by: Gilbert A Smith ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

Ironwood is one of my favorite trees because it is a native understory in the forests all around us. It has been here longer than most of our common street trees like Honeylocust, Norway Maple or Magnolia yet no one knows it. It is a nice small tree, (30 feet by 20 feet) and unlike most trees it is shade tolerant which makes it desirable in a mature landscape. Its bark and leaves look deceptively like American Elm so it blends in and you may not even know you're looking at it.

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Interview with an Oak Tree

Interview with an Oak Tree

Backyard Wisdom • April 2016
by Gilbert A. Smith, ISA Master Arborist

This month I’m privileged to speak with Mr. Oak, who lives in a ravine along Sheridan Road in Highland Park, IL.

Gil: It’s nice to see you again Mr. Oak. Thank you for talking with us.

Mr Oak: Well I’m glad to. I watch the cars and people go by, always in a hurry and I wish they would stop and say Hi i to me. I have a lot of things I could teach them not the least of which is to slow down and enjoy my shade once in a while.

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Amazing Trees, Amazing Me!

Amazing Trees, Amazing Me!

Mother Nature’s Moment - April 2016
by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA certified arborist

I have spent the whole of my professional career explaining to people that trees are amazing organisms with an innate wisdom. This requests of us that we approach them with humility, and recognize that they have the ability to heal themselves far beyond what we are capable of understanding.  As a result, we seek to be careful observers of the natural environment and do our best to mimic that in our home landscapes in order to provide the best possible home for our tree friends to survive and thrive.  

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Tree of the Month - Larch or Tamarack

Tree of the Month - Larch or Tamarack

Larch or Tamarack •  Larix laricina

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA certified Master Arborist

The scrappy Larch Tree has lived in Illinois since the glaciers retreated 6000 years ago. Like a living museum a small remnant of plants survive in Volo Bog about 40 miles NW of Chicago. You’ll find the Larch trees on an island of peaty soil floating on the surface of the bog.  If you're there on a stormy day you can actually feel the whole land mass move or “quake” because it’s floating.

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