Shade, shade! my kingdom for shade! (with apologies to Shakespeare)

(This entry was originally posted Wednesday, 7/10/07 on my website in a foolish attempt to create a blog without blog software.)

Neither my garden nor I are hothouse flowers. Heat makes us wilt and fade away. Excessive heat, as we had yesterday (102 deg F yesterday), really puts us out of sorts.

I’ve been dragging the hose around to all my newly planted treasures, deep soaking my beds while I check for signs of sunburn and imminent doom.

Most are fairing well. However, my Corylopsis pauciflora’s leaves are crispy critters. The heat is only partly to blame for that. We’ve been redoing the bank where it is planted and I’m sure we disturbed the roots, making it more susceptible to heat stress.

Our South-facing backyard, with its large patio and deck, soaks up and radiates heat back at us. Every year when the heat hits, I vow to plant more trees to provide respite. So far, I’ve planted 13 deciduous trees:
one Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak), two Cercidiphyllum japonicum (katsura), two Cornus kousa (Korean dogwoods), one Parrotia persica ‘Vanessa’, one Lagerstroemia ‘Tuscarora’ (crape myrtle), one Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ (Japanese maple),
one Stewartia pseudocamelia, one Zelkova serrata ‘Green Vase’, and three Acer circinatum (vine maples). Some are relatively young but my more established trees are already providing much needed shade.

I fear I’m going to lose my scarlet oak, though, and that breaks my heart. When I began to notice something was amiss, I poured over resources and scanned the internet for clues to no avail. I called in 2 tree experts to come take a look. One finally gave me a tentative answer and it was one I did not recognize – exogenous bark. At least I think that’s what he said. Basically, my oak is trying to grow multiple trunks within its bark. He didn’t think it would mean death but he said to watch for dead and dying branches.

When it leafed out this year, there were many – too many – bare branches.

Not good.

I think it’s time to call in the cavalry and see if there’s anything that can be done for it. I sure would hate to lose it and the shade it provides.

As would my garden. Neither of us likes the heat.

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