My snow-covered trees from last night’s fresh snow remind me again of why I love my trees and why we need trees. The view from my office window shows me a flock of tiny yellow finches taking turns flying from a long arching evergreen branch to the feeder sock in front of my window. Its filled with black thistle seeds, their favorite. They take turns fighting over any spare inch of space on the sock, then head back to the evergreen branch.
Mourning doves and quail scratch around the base of the finch sock, quickly pecking up all the dropped seeds. Because the ground is covered with snow, I sprinkled some handfuls of thistle seed on top to get them started.
Just a short distance away is a HUGE blue spruce that provides hiding places for the blue jays this year. They too peek out from deep inside the branches, dash out to poke around for their hidden acorn buried treasures, then back to the protection of the tree.
Quail used that tree for many years as their own nesting hide-out before the jays took over. But they’ve moved now to the base of the hawthorne tree on the west side of the house. It has beautiful red berries and a nice branching system, perfect for nest-building for the doves. The dropped berries provide food all winter for the small flocks that pass through the neighborhood. I’ve watched woodpeckers, robins, chickadees and a myriad of other birds I don’t know poke around the base of that tree.
I originally planted the hawthorne in front of the window on the west side of the house because its a small, densely branched tree. Within 2 years of planting, it filtered the burning rays of the sun and provides enough shade to cool that room by about 10 – 15 degrees. 15 years later, the back of the neighbor’s shed is completely blocked by the laced branches.
My white peach tree offers a home to a beautiful black bee’s nest in the spring, but under the winter snow its soft wet leaves provide a haven for buried acorns, seeds and dragonfly eggs. Under that tree is also my flower patch for butterflies. The ripened seed heads are protected by those lacy peach leaves left on the ground. And the small milkweed patch is there too.
As you can tell, trees are an essential part of any landscape design. They provide a haven for wildlife–food and nesting, protection for under-plantings, and essential cooling of the environment in the garden and of my house. I’ve planted a mixture of female trees for the flowers, fruit and seeds, and I’m happy to tell you I have only one male tree–the big spruce. It has lots of pollen, but luckily its planted on the far corner of the front yard, where that pollen is easily blown away from the house. (I learned this, just like you, from my most recent podcast with Tom Ogren, who wrote the Allergy-Fighting Garden.)
I’ve planted a mixture of deciduous trees and evergreens because I love the blend of different greens, extravagant fall color and different textures. I’ve also learned that this tree mixture attracts different flocks of birds throughout the year. I think I even recognize a particular woodpecker because I see him on the same tree every fall–and then he’s gone.
The big evergreens on the east side of the driveway soften the traffic noise from the freeway and filter the air-borne pollution too. You can see why I love trees and why we need them. Its a new year and a new opportunity to improve your landscape and your own state of being. Plant some trees.
In sync with nature,