September 2016 Tree of the Month and Backyard Wisdom (combined)
by: Gilbert A Smith, ISA certified Master Arborist
Mrs. Willow lives in the Chicago Botanic Gardens, dipping her roots into the waters of the Great Basin.Read More
Mrs. Willow lives in the Chicago Botanic Gardens, dipping her roots into the waters of the Great Basin.Read More
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).Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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??Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
Last week we flipped over from summer to autumn, when we enjoy warm sunny days and cooler nights just perfect for sleeping. As arborists we also begin to notice that the trees that are most under stress are showing us by displaying their fall color a little earlier than all their neighbors.
We cannot help but also notice that so many of the Ash trees we have lost from Emerald Ash Borer are being replaced by Maples.Read More
Behind our backyard, a few feet out into the nature preserve, stands a 60’ Cottonwood tree. Yes, I know that Cottonwoods are kind of considered big weeds, have soft wood, and make a mess. But this one is particularly dear to me. For the 20 years that we've lived here, we've seen it grow from a little twig into a large fine tree that provides shade, perches for more kinds of birds that I can count, and most of all, holds wonderful memories.Read More
Gilbert and Lesley Smith are ISA Certified Arborists, have university degrees, and have been caring for trees on Chicago's North Shore since 1980. Arborsmith. LTD., Lake Bluff IL | (847) 634-7734.
Proper tree preservation and maintenance can only be done by those who have advanced technical education in the art and science of arboriculture. Arborsmith. LTD has the hands of experience to care for your trees from the roots to the crown—from their planting to long term care. Arborsmith is able to deliver a level of care that is beyond the typical certified arborist.
We have a passion for stewardship, to help you protect your corner of the earth.
Trees that don’t get planted very often because they are not ‘rock stars’ of the tree world.
With both common and scientific names you can go online and search about the way these trees look, their habits, their growing requirements, genetic size etc.
Black Alder - Alnus glutinosa
Aspen - Populus tremuloides
Baldcypress - Taxodium distichum
Buckeye - Aesculus glabra
Butternut - Juglans cineria
Catalpa - Catalpa speciosa
Douglasfir - Pseudotsuga menziesii
Elm, Hybrid - Ulmus x hybrida
Ginkgo - Ginkgo biloba
Hickory, Shagbark - Carya ovata
Hickory, Shellbark - Carya condiformis
Ironwood - Ostrya virginiana
Katsuratree - Cercidiphylium japonicum
Kentucky Coffee Tree - Gymnocladus dioicus
Larch - Larix decidua
Tree Lilac - Syringa reticulata
Magnollia, Cucumber - Magnollia accuminata
Maple, Black - Acer nigra
Maple, Nikko - Acer nikoense
Mayabi Maple - Acer mayabi
Mountainash - Sorbus acuparia
Musclewood - Carpinus caroliniana
Bicolor Oak - Quercus bicolor
Burr Oak - Quercus macrocarpa
Paw Paw - Asimina triloba
Persimmon - Diosporus virginianna
Bosnian Pine - Pinus heldreichii
Limber Pine - Pinus flexilis
Ponderosa Pine - Pinus ponderosa
Dawn Redwood - Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Sassafras - Sassafras albidum
Sweetgum - Liquidambar styraciflua
Tupilo - Nyssa sylvatica
Tuliptree - Liriodendron tulipifera
Turkish Filbert - Corylus colurna
English Walnut - Juglans regia
Yellowood - Cladrastis kentukea
Zelcova - Zelcova serrata
NOTE: Also be sure to check out the terrific list of native IL tree and shrub replacements for Ash on the Conserve Lake County website: Conserve Lake County Ash Replacements
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