Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

August/September 2017 Tree of the Month
photos and text by: Lesley Bruce Smith

The unusual leaves of the Ginkgo tree are both lovely and familiar due to it’s many unique traits.  It’s leaves are unlike those of any other existing tree, although fossil records are plentiful of this ancient tree, which even predates the conifers, of which they share many important characteristics.  The Ginkgo biloba is also known as the Maidenhair Tree because its leaves are similar in shape to the fronds of the maidenhair fern. 

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Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins

Backyard Wisdom - September 2017
Gilbert A Smith, ISA Board Certified Master Arborist

Can you see the red color of the spring foliage on this Burr Oak? It looks like fall color and in fact this is the same dynamic that goes on every fall. The color is a pigment called anthocyanin, which is responsible for red and purple fall color. But what is it doing in the young spring leaf tissue? Red Anthocyanins are one of the 3 plant pigments.Carotenoids providing orange colors like carrots and chlorophyll, which we all know, is green. These three pigments are present in leaves all the time but the green from chlorophyll usually dominates. 

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Poison Ivy Primer

Poison Ivy Primer

Mother Nature's Moment
© 2017, 2011 text and photos by Lesley Bruce Smith

This season finds many of us out in our gardens or in local forest preserves, with fall color not far away.  Since we spend a good deal of time in your yards, as well, we know that there is a lot of poison ivy out there, even more with all the rain we have had.  As professionals, we realize that the best way to avoid this often agonizing malady is to be able to identify and stay clear of the plant.

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July / August Tree of the Month • Burr Oak

July / August Tree of the Month • Burr Oak

Burr Oak Quercus macrocarpa

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA Certified Master Arborist

The Burr Oak, or Quercus macrocarpa, is one of our absolute favorite trees.  It’s magnificent stature is a real stand out in the native Illinois prairie. It has a really thick, sometimes several inches, tough craggy bark that just can’t be mistaken for any other species and that same bark makes it able to survive the prairie fires that raged across the Illinois plains in earlier days.

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Selecting the Right Person to Trim Your Trees

Selecting the Right Person to Trim Your Trees

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

A few weeks ago a friend of ours who lives outside our service area asked me about how to choose someone to trim his trees. His inquiry came in like this…

We’d actually like a filtered referral. A couple of years ago a friend at church hired a tree trimer and afterward felt that both he and his tree had been scalped. How do we decide if a big franchise or landscaping company will do any better or worse than a man with a rope and a chain saw? What questions should we ask?
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Spring Weather and Your Trees

Spring Weather and Your Trees

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

I don’t know if you have noticed, but we seem somewhat overwhelmed with how the rain and sun and rain, and rain and rain and sun have created huge amounts of growth on all our trees and shrubs, and all yours too!  The trees and shrubs love mild (not too hot) moist conditions which trigger them to put out lots of green leaves=food producers=water evaporators.

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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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