Thursday, December 31, 2009

An Avenue of Green: Parkway Trees

One of the things that sold us on our house (other than it being a Sears catalog kit home with little niches, pointed arches, and general cuteness) was the neighborhood full of trees.  When we were apartment dwellers, we lived on blocks full of trees.  We chose Evanston because I needed to have green around me and they have managed to do a better than average job of keeping their elms.  There are even studies proving that people do best when surrounded by trees.  I have an enormous hackberry (Celtis occidentalis) in our parkway.  It does a beautiful job shading the house from the west sun even though it has been limbed up to a point of lion tailing.  Lion tailing is where trees are pruned up so high that you have a little tuft of branches at the top.  The only drawback is that it also drops little purple berries.  The birds do a pretty good job, but we still get lots of seedlings.  The berries are edible (they taste like dates), but have a large pit for their wee size.  It has nipple gall, so the leaves have warts on them, but I don't really consider that an issue.  More of a personality quirk, really.

At any rate, I am lucky to live in a village that believes in tree diversity.  On my little block, the village has planted shingle oak, hackberry, ash, catalpa, silver maple, spruce, ginkgo, and turkish filbert.  That's a lot of different species!  As we didn't learn with the overplanting of elms and now ashes, too many trees of the same species provide an ideal meal for insects and sites for diseases.  So, if you get the opportunity to plant a tree - choose something different from the neighbors!  There's more out there than maples!

One of the best features of hackberry is the nifty warty bark.

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