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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Interview with a Sugar Maple 

Interview with a Sugar Maple 

Backyard Wisdom

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA certified Master Arborist

We do a lot of talking about what is good for trees, but frankly we’re just people who can’t think like a tree. So I thought this year I would ask some of my favorite trees to speak for themselves. If you have questions you would like to ask a tree please send them to Gil Smith at the Arborsmiths, and he will go talk to his friends the trees.

Gil -  Allow me to introduce one of my very favorite trees, this is Ms. Sugar Maple a.k.a. Acer saccharum

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An Invitation to a Different Kind of Journey

An Invitation to a Different Kind of Journey

Mother Nature’s Moment

by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA certified arborist

As many of you know, nine months ago, I sustained a litany of injuries in a serious bicycle accident. We were so grateful for the many ways you were patient and caring in that difficult time. Unfortunately, I need to ask for your patience and understanding yet again. On February 2, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, we caught it early and it is in initial stages and very treatable. However, no one wants to hear their name and the word cancer in the same sentence. This is a journey I would rather not be having to make.

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Tree of the Month • Black Locust

Tree of the Month • Black Locust

January 2016 Tree of the Month and Backyard Wisdom (combined)

Black Locust  Robinia pseudoaccacia

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA certified Master Arborist

In the early 1900’s unscrupulous land speculators sold property in the great plains claiming buyers could “strike it rich” farming the vast grasslands. Originally plains looked green and promising in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Kansas because although the annual rainfall was only 10 inches the prairie grasses were well adapted.  Like all grasses, when the rain stops, they simply go dormant and when the drought ends they green up. (Note, this is the same today with our lawn grasses so we really do not need to water as much as we do.)  The native grasses were tough and the thick roots that were so hard to till, held the soil in place. The modern sod busting plow and tractor, they thought, were just the tools to exploit this treasure. Hundreds of thousands headed west to make their fortune.

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A Word About Winter Storm Damage

A Word About Winter Storm Damage

Mother Nature’s Moment

by: Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA certified arborist

Why is it important to repair damaged and broken branches in the winter? You might be surprised to learn why.

In the unexpected and heavy November 2015 snow storm we experienced a large amount of tree damage. As I have been driving around the North Shore it is obvious that many of the broken or hanging branches have not been attended to. The reason it is important to “repair” these damaged branches NOW is because without leaves the damage is easier to see and it is easier to correct.

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The Climbing Tree

The Climbing Tree

Tree of the Month - Catalpa • Catalpa speciosa

October/November 2016

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA Master Arborist

In the Park in Glenview where I grew up, my father grew up and my grandfather raised his family stands an ancient weatherworn Catalpa tree. The leaves are giant “elephant ears” that sway in the slightest breeze.

The huge Pinky-white flowers cover this 60 foot tree even at the top in May/ June. It is one of the few large shade trees with showy, sweet smelling flowers.

The long, thin, cylindrical, fruit pods hanging down within reach can be popped into a child’s mouth as a pretend cigar. That’s where this tree gets one of its common names, Indian Cigar Tree.

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Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed

Backyard Wisdom - October/November 2015

by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA Master Arborist

It’s Thanksgiving and time for apple pie and all good things to eat. So we think about Johnny Appleseed, a real American Folk hero who changed the kind of Apples we eat. Did you know that the apples we eat do not come from trees grown from seeds? In nature all species are kept healthy by sexual reproduction which insures genetic diversity to withstand a variety of challenges, from climate change to disease attacks.

For centuries orchardists have watched for fruit that is large, disease resistant and flavorful. When they find particularly good fruit the only way to reproduce it is asexually, using grafting. This is because seeds contain completely new genetic combinations from the parent tree. So apple seeds produce mostly what are referred to as “spitters”, apples that are too bitter for anything but making hard cider.

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Doing the Right Thing

Doing the Right Thing

Mother Nature’s Moment
October/November 2015

Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

This fall I received a startling reminder of one of our core values as a company.  I drive a Volkswagon Jetta TDI, which was sold to me as a clean diesel engine with fabulous gas mileage.  For the last four and a half years I have been happily driving my car, thrilled with the sense that I was not polluting the air and getting terrific gas mileage of around 40 mpg. This month’s news has been saturated with stories about VW making choices over and over again to “do the wrong thing”.  To cheat, to lie to their customers and their dealers, and to the governments in the countries where they sell their cars. Yikes...what were they thinking??

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Silver Maple

Silver Maple

Tree of the Month
Silver Maple, Acer saccharinum

by Lesley Bruce Smith, ISA Certified Arborist

The Silver Maple is one of those trees that gets a lot of bad press. It is not one of our favorites because it has a history of poor structure and due to it’s fast growth habit is considered to be a weak tree. But like any tree planted in the right location and given the necessary growth requirements it has much to commend it.  Personally, I love the view of a big Silver Maple on a windy day. That’s when we can see and appreciate the lovely silver greygreen undersides of the leaves contrasted against the dark green on the topsides. I’ve lived across the street from one for over two decades.

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Skunks and Japanese Beetles

Skunks and Japanese Beetles

Backyard Wisdom

by ISA Master Arborist, Gilbert Smith

Have you noticed holes being dug in your lawn this fall? The most likely culprit is skunks. The Skunks are not eating your grass, but they are mining your turf roots for tasty grubs. The grubs are eating your healthy grass roots so we should be thanking the skunks.  In fact, the grubs are actually the larval stage of June Beetles and another beetle grub new to our neighborhood, the horrid Japanese Beetle. So, again, thank you skunks!  When the Japanese Beetle emerges from the grub stage in the summer it is the enemy of Rose gardens, Raspberries, Hydrangeas and Lindens to name just a few. I hate them, but the skunks think they are delicious.

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