December 1, 2007

Imagine That! Readers Prefer Big Trees

The results of the latest poll are in. Readers of Tree News were asked, "What kind of landscape do you prefer around your house?"
51% of respondents prefer as many big shade trees as possible

39% of respondents prefer one or two shade trees and some small ornamentals

3% of respondents apparently live in a desert

None of the respondents prefer only small ornamental trees in their landscape, and none of the respondents prefer that trees just go away and stay in the forest.
It makes sense that a majority of our readers love shade trees. What's remarkable, is that a small percentage reported living in a desert. It is likely that some of these readers were just being silly when they indicated this preference; however after studying the geographic locations of our growing readership, I can see how many may simply live in arid places - Portugal, Persia, etc.

November 4, 2007

Great Fall Color for Trees is not Surprising


Once again the experts got it wrong. Fall color doom sayers were fueling the fire of arboreal panic earlier this year, looking into their silvicultural crystal balls and predicting a disappointing season for leaf viewing aficionados. The drought, the regional 'experts' said, would cause trees to shorten their color display and bring fall senescence much earlier than usual. Of course, that hasn't happened.

The fall color around town is actually rather good. In fact, this fall seems to be unusually long. In previous years, even those with adequate rainfall, leaves have tended to fall much quicker. For example, by the end of November in zones 7 and 8, Tulip poplar Liriodendron tulipifera has all but completely dropped its leaves. But that just isn't the case in 2007. Zelkova trees have been showing great uniform color in parking lot islands. Red maple trees have been more colorful, on average, than recent years. Sweetgums are holding on to their leaves and are just now showing reds and purples.

Why our drought has caused normally knowledgeable people to fall off the cart and predict the unpredictable is baffling. Water availability is, at best, a tiny consideration when it comes to fall leaf color. Fall color is governed by the differential between day and nighttime temperatures, and the presence of pigments in the tree leaf. Anthocyanins, the pigment that produces red in the tree leaf, can actually be heightened by poor soil and deficits of nitrogen.

Fall leaf color is not a survival function of the tree. It is simply a visual artifact during the leaf shedding process, as chlorophyll disappears at the end of the growing season.

October 12, 2007

Coweta County Adopts Tree Ordinance, Hires Full-time Arborist

Coweta County is the newest municipality in Georgia to adopt a tree ordinance. The ordinance, which passed earlier this Spring, made way for a new position in Coweta government: County Arborist.

Just a little over a month ago, Roy Matthews took the helm. Roy has a strong background in both arboriculture and urban forestry. As graduate of Bowling Green State University, he began his municipal career as a City Forester for Sandusky, Ohio, a tree maintenance supervisor for Savannah, GA, a Superintendent of Parks and Grounds for the City of Beaufort, SC, Grounds Supervisor for the City of College Park, and Superintendent of Grounds at Fort_McPherson/Fort Gillem.

I spoke to Roy Matthews over the phone, and asked him what he thought the main impetus was for the county to adopt a tree ordinance. "The primary concern was the rapid development of County," Roy commented, "There is no slowing of growth here, and there needed to be something to help conserve urban forest resources."

Roy holds the ISA Certified Arborist credential. He is also a member of the ISA, Georgia Arborist Association, and Georgia Urban Forestry Council. Some of his goals include the development of educational tree preservation workshops in Coweta County and the creation of constructive relationships with the land development community.

His favorite tree is the American beech.

The Coweta Tree Ordinance is similar to the Fulton County tree ordinance and several of the county ordinances around the metro area, focusing primarily on new development and not individual established residential lots. It has a Specimen Tree component, which should be familiar to all Atlanta residents, providing special status to mature hardwood trees over 24 inches in diameter on new developments.

October 2, 2007

Persimmon Trees Go Nuts


This is an amazing year for Persimmon fruit!

The best place to find them is along roadsides, especially near the south facing suburban and rural wooded edges.

Go ahead and try one, it will be delicious right about now.

September 12, 2007

Trees Sandy Springs

A citizen group, patterned after the highly successful and popular Trees Atlanta, has emerged in the City of Sandy Springs. Trees Sandy Springs appears to have launched in late August. The group is spearheaded by Sandy Springs resident Nina Cramer.

The group is currently involved with volunteer work projects to water and mulch young community trees in the Main Street district and at schools. Trees Sandy Springs will have a volunteer recruitment drive at the Sandy Springs Festival on September 15 and 16.

August 29, 2007

Georgia Pecan trees to excel this year



Even though Georgia suffered a late freeze and a record drought in 2007, the state's Pecan trees are set to produce one of the best crops of nuts in recent history. The UGA Cooperative extension service estimates that our beloved Carya illinoensis will provide 90 million to 95 million pounds of pecans this season.

Earlier this year, many Pecans in the central and eastern part of the state sustained damage from the frost, but apparently most trees recovered and have set a bumper crop of nuts. Growers estimate that the 2007 crop will be double that of last year's pitiful crop, which was one of the state's lowest in pecan production.

The current drought conditions are damaging; but have had an unexpected consequence: the drought has kept insects and diseases from ruining the Pecan nuts. Aphids, mites, and scab are common pests of Pecan trees. In addition, farmers have had the rare option of spraying less chemical controls such as insecticides and fungicides. In some cases, farmers have sprayed half as much pesticides as they usually do.

August 23, 2007

Grant available to improve Atlanta commnuity parks

Park Pride is accepting applications for its Community Micro-Grants Program. The program provides City of Atlanta communities matching grants of up to $500 for public greenspace improvement projects.

Since the program’s inception last fall, Park Pride has awarded 45 grants ranging from $150-$500 to community groups in neighborhoods throughout Atlanta. Examples of worthwhile projects: building a new playground, creation of a nature trail, park beautification, and the addition of amenities such as picnic tables and flower beds.

Neighborhood groups need to submit proposals to their Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU). The NPU then reviews proposals and recommends the award of a Park Pride micro-grant. Each of the City’s 24 NPUs may recommend grants totaling $500 for projects within their jurisdiction.

The Park Pride Micro-Grant application deadline is September 30th. Awards will be announced October 15th. For questions call Allison Barnett at (404) 817-6760.

August 19, 2007

Mystery Peach Tree Revealed

Rosalind Bentley, writing for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, has gone public with a little-known tree mystery. Her August 10 article revealed the location of a desparate Prunus persica growing near the intersection of Peachtree Hills Avenue and Peachtree Street.

Peach trees, keeping with the trend of confusing street names, are altogether rare along Peachtree Street. This tree appears by all counts a naturalized specimen, possibly sprouted years ago from a peach pit! And I thought Atlanta was only populated with transplants.

Read the entire article at the AJC.

July 13, 2007

Georgia Arborist Association rockets ahead with $10K Grant

For the second year, a $10,000 Urban Forestry Grant has been awarded to the GAA by the Georgia Forestry Commission's Urban & Community Forestry Grant Program.

This grant will enable the GAA to retain it's current Executive Director, Donna Rayfield. Our Executive Director was originally hired on October 12, 2006 and serves on a part-time basis. She manages the day to day operations of the GAA including maintaining the GAA website, making arrangements for GAA meetings and workshops, and membership recruitment.

July 5, 2007

GUFC to present "Trees & Utilities" program Aug. 9

Join the Georgia Urban Forest Council on August 9th, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, at the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, located at 2020 Clean Water Drive, Buford, Georgia, for their 3rd quarter meeting and training session. DeKalb County Arborist India Shahid will facilitate a panel discussion featuring Jimmy Etheridge of the Georgia Transmission Corporation, Scott Souder and Susan Avent of the Georgia Power Company, and Hugh Tyer, a utility arborist consultant.

Also featured on the program will be a brief talk on the green design elements of the center by Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center's Sheila Fowler, and an outdoor tour by a representative from the Jaeger Company of their award-winning landscape design. There will also be time for a self-guided tour of the exhibits. And, for those interested, there will be a ramble on the shady trails immediately following the program.

The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center is a unique building designed by Lord, Aeck & Sargent using the latest in green design. The design for the 233-acre campus was provided by the Jaeger Company, who won an Award of Excellence from the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects for their work. This project also earned LEED certification and features land conservation, preservation of a natural setting, pervious paving, bio-retention areas, rain gardens, constructed wetlands, native plant materials and more.

Lunch will be provided. To register, download a PDF form, or call 800-994-4832.

June 27, 2007

Atlanta Drought is Trial by Fire for Trees


After months of little rain, trees around the Atlanta area are beginning to look a little parched.

The weakest trees are the ones that succumb to moisture stress first. Sometimes its the trees that have been damaged from soil disturbance, such as on construction sites or even on lawns that have been over-manicured. Construction sites may have compacted soil that drives out pore space in the soil. Over manicured lawns may have been over-watered in the past or been graded by machinery that destroyed fine roots in the upper strata of the soil profile.

Trees growing in regions that are already dry may be on the edge of critical moisture stress. A casual drive through south DeKalb County reveals Loblolly pines dying on the rock outcrops. These trees functioned under normal rainfall conditions, but this year has been especially hard on them. Perhaps, the stronger trees will re-populate the area.

Once called "The most massive and longest lived organisms on Earth" by the late Alex Shigo, mature trees require an enormous amount of moisture to sustain them. As the rain deficit languishes, it is the strongest and most resourceful of the trees that thrive and continue to grow through out the season. How can a tree, when grass and small plants around it die, still manage to carry on under such strenuous conditions?

Well-established trees have a root system that is astoundingly large. A tree's root system is not just a bunch of woody fingers in the soil. It is a true system, having many parts that function as whole, to deliver the tiniest of water molecules the rest of the tree. These scraps of moisture are trapped in the soil, and can only be wrenched away by a sophisticated network of microscopic organisms that are attached to the finest of root hairs. Certain types of fungi become married to tree roots, and form whole new 'drinking' organs for the tree, called michorrhizae. Without a healthy population of micorrhizae, a tree could not survive.

The entire root network, including michorrhizae and other biological relationships, extend farther than the tree's branches and can comprise 2/3 of the entire tree mass.

June 24, 2007

Atlanta Council proposes significant change to tree ordinance


On June 17, The Atlanta City Council made a striking modification the City's tree ordinance.

Property owners will now be allowed to remove any tree that is growing within 5 feet of a house or duplex, without recompense. A permit will still be required from the City Arborist Division prior to removal, and no other tree may be removed under the same provision for 5 years. Furthermore, the exemption does not apply if the tree contributes 10 percent or more of the total tree canopy over the lot.

March 2, 2007

Tree Climbing Competition Nears Deadline


The Georgia Arborist Association's annual Tree Climbing Championship nears its registration deadline, as the Saturday, March 10 event draws close. Skilled tree climbers from all over the metro Atlanta area will compete in a full day of fun and activity at the United Methodist’s Children’s Home, located at 500 South Columbia Drive in Decatur. The event begins at 7:30 AM, and could last till 5:00 PM.

The event brings together tree climbing professionals, enthusiasts, and hobbyists for fellowship and friendly games. Contestants compete in five preliminary events to qualify as one of three finalists in the Masters Challenge championship. Preliminary events include: secured foot lock, belayed speed climb, aerial rescue, throw line, and work climb. The winner of the Masters challenge will be sponsored to the Southern Chapter ISA Tree Climbing Championship in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 25-27, 2007. Prizes will be awarded to winners of each event.

Tree lovers of all backgrounds are encouraged to volunteer for the event. Contact Mark Collins at (404) 378-2774.

February 8, 2007

New Sandy Springs Tree Ordinance Passed

The Mayor and Council of Sandy Springs adopted a new Tree Conservation Ordinance, February 6, 2007, which was effective upon adoption. The Ordinance introduces concepts to protect tree canopy throughout the city, establishes a Tree Bank, and provides Administrative Standards and Best Management Practices.

This new Ordinance will be the subject of two identical training sessions, conducted by the City Arborist, Michael Barnett. They are scheduled for:

• Monday, February 12, 2007 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the City Council Chambers of City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road, building 500, and, repeated,

• Thursday, February 22, 2007 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the Training room adjacent to the Council Chambers of City Hall.

The City of Sandy Springs is posting an open invitation to all who wish to participate.

January 4, 2007

Meeting to Explain New Sandy Springs Tree Ordinance

A public meeting on Jan. 11 will give Sandy Springs citizens an opportunity to ask questions about the city's proposed tree ordinance. There will be a presentation on how the ordinance works, the minimum requirements for land disturbance permits, the definition of specimen trees, the variance process, problems typically encountered on sites and enforcement. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, located at City Hall in the Morgan Falls office park.