Denny Schrock

plant a tree for arbor day

The last Friday in April is national Arbor Day. Celebrate by planting a tree! While some states designate a different day to mark the occasion locally, this is a good time for everyone to participate in greening the environment by planting a tree. If you have no room in your yard to plant a tree, consider growing one in a container garden or join a community tree planting project.

This year I’ll be planting several trees in my yard, among them black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii), and Carolina silverbell (Halesia tetraptera). I like to grow less common plants for several reasons. Not only do I find their unique qualities interesting, but I know that uncommon plants are less likely to be wiped out by epidemics. (Think about Dutch elm disease, chestnut wilt, and emerald ash borer.) So as you decide what kind of tree you’d like to plant, keep in mind which species are widely planted in your neighborhood, and try something different.

Black gum, also known as tupelo, has outstanding fall color that ranges from red to purple to fluorescent orange and yellow. It prefers acidic soil and tolerates swampy conditions. 30 to 50 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide. Zones 4-9.

Chinkapin oak is a drought-tolerant native tree that grows best in full sun. The acorns are a favorite of wildlife. 40 to 60 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-7.

Carolina silverbell is named for its pendulous white springtime blooms. It prefers part shade, but will grow in full sun. 30 to 35 feet tall and 20 to 25 feet wide. Zones 5-8.

Denny Schrock

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Those dreaming of a white Christmas in Central Iowa appear to be out of luck. Despite a dusting (or shall I say “slushing”?) of snow as Hanukkah began, prospects for additional white stuff before Christmas look slim. And with 40-degree temperatures in the forecast, it appears that what little snow we have will be gone before the weekend arrives.

Never fear. You can still have a white holiday in photos. I took these shots in my yard back in November when we had an early 4-inch snowfall.

Bright red winterberry holly pops against the white backdrop of snow.

The leaves of shingle oak capture newly fallen snow.

Flower Carpet roses covered in white are seemingly all decorated for Christmas.

Boxwood greens contrast with fresh snow.

This 'Blue Star' juniper topiary wears a cap of snow.