Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Tree Project

So here I am in a new environment.  Six months now.  And we're still kind of settling in.  The things we could do, we did - like the landscaping project.  Other things - like new flooring - will have to wait until next year.  It all depends on time and fundage.  One project that didn't have to wait for fundage is something I'm calling The Tree Project.

When we first got to this heavily treed acre and a quarter, we had a good idea what some of these trees are.  Black walnut trees are pretty hard to mistake for anything else - especially when they start dropping smaller tennis ball looking fruits all over the place.  And an oak is an oak is an oak.

Except when it isn't.

We have at least 4 different varieties of oak in the yard.  And a couple different kinds of hickory.  So the first thing I did was pick up a copy of The Audobon Society's Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region.  Which helped us determine that the big oak in front is a white oak and the hickory tree just outside the sunroom is a mockernut hickory

Using the internet helped, too.  Without online resources, I wouldn't have known that was a redbud tree in the front yard or that those were dogwoods just off the property line.  (Never seen either of those up close before.)

But a few trees still eluded me.

The other day, I went around the yard with my camera - snapping pictures of each tree's bark, the leaves, and any fruit they might offer.  (Stupid oaks weren't being cooperative and wouldn't show me their acorns - at least not on the tree and with all the squirrels, I can't just guess which acorn goes to which tree.)

Now I'm trying to catalog which trees are what.  Yeah, I'm totally geeking out.  But I have a burning desire to know.  And it's not easy. (Of course, it doesn't help that some oak trees are known to hybridize... those hussies... which would explain why the oak in back has traits of both the Scarlet Oak and the Shumard Oak.)

I even made a map of the yard and numbered the trees in red, so I'd know which pictures were of which trees.  (Yeah, I'm thinking way too hard about this, but that's kind of what 'geeking out' means.)  In the end, I'll have a good idea of who's who and what to expect from them over the years.  Who'll be dropping nuts, who'll be flowering, and who to watch out for in times of drought.  In the great scheme of things, it's not that important, but it's important to me.

What kinds of things do you geek out about? 


  1. I should do that with my trees. I know the broad names of some of my trees, but not the specific variety. Mostly I concentrate on whether it's poisonous to man or beast. :o)

    1. Always a good thing to know, Maria. And yeah, you should try it. It's kinda fun... but a little frustrating.

  2. If any of your oaks covered cars/furniture/etc. with a gold-yellow dust, they're Golden Oaks. My yard is full of them. They don't turn until late and usually just go brown leaves.

    The redbud will bud out and bloom before leaves appear in mid-March. The buds form on the trunk and limbs themselves. Dogwood will bloom about the same time.

    It depends on what I'm researching. I'll go all geeky for awhile while I suss out info on whatever topic. Anything historical stirs my geekdom. LOL

    1. Good to know, Silver. So far, I've identified the white oak, a possible chestnut oak and that oak that's probably a hybrid of two varieties of black oak. We got here in time to see the redbud bloom. Okay, so it was kinda pathetic at the time, but I've been babying it, so maybe it'll be less pathetic come spring. And the dogwoods are gorgeous - even more so now that I know what they are.

  3. I used to geek out about my family history until I hit too many dead ends and then LOST the files I had on the computer. Yeah, I have the paper documents (thank GOD),but the desire waned somewhere along the way to bother re-entering all that information.

    I love Dogwood trees, but they don't grow very well up here. There are lots of redbuds around here, though. They're pretty in the spring, but kind of ugly and sparce looking the rest of the year. We have two silver maple trees, one king crimson maple tree (red leaves), and one dwarf pear tree (fruit-bearing). Now with the leaves falling and making a mess, I'm thinking we should have stuck with evergreens!

    1. Oh no, Stacy. I'd hate that. I did the Ancestry.com thing, but I have a lot of those files on my computer, too. Losing them would suck. :runs off to back up:

      I love silver maples... well any kind of maple really. But they're scarce here. Good luck with the leaves. I think we're just going to leave ours where they lay - except for the flower beds - this year and see.

  4. I really should discover the names of the trees in my garden; great idea.