Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another day with Aussie Mueller...and some trees

On Saturday I drove to Kansas. My goal was to try and identify trees. Aussie was there to greet me and armed with my new Sibley Guide to Trees, we were off to see if there was anything out there besides oaks.

I'm not complaining about the oaks....they're just relatively easy to identify. And hopefully in the spring, under all those oaks will be lots and lots of morels. :-)

This is one of the trees that is still standing after being too close to the fire that burned down the house that used to be on the property. Big charred branches still drop from it. I fantasize about hiring a tree crew for a week and just have them trim, prune and remove all the dead or nearly dead trees on oh...all 21 acres. I sure would feel a lot safer what with being out in the woods recently and having a huge tree fall in front of me. But can you imagine the cost? Gawd. I think tree surgeons charge more per hour than neurosurgeons. Part of this land stomping business is to try and figure out which trees are the easiest to fix and which ones are going to be trouble or worse, dangerous.

These two trees had two big nests at the top of them. I would assume squirrels had built them but I have yet to see or hear one squirrel since I've been out there. I did see some telltale bird poop on the ground under the nests so I wonder if this is where the hawk I saw this past summer lives.

Aussie is getting a little impatient. Time to get going and get off the hill...

...and get across that creek.

This little maple (I think it's the only maple on the property) always looks like a happy ballerina in a big tutu.

We walk to the property's western edge and I am able to identify...

Some sort of cedar...

Some sort of spruce...

Some sort of pine...

And some sort of tree that looks like it was left over from the Wizard of Oz movie set.

That thing was wild. I was half expecting it to start throwing apples at me, if there were any. The only things under it were some black walnuts...

...and a beer can.

Well, I am going to have to identify this tree as one that will hide squirrel crime (where did those walnuts come from???) and teenage drinking. When it's in leaf, it must make a nice private tent for anyone in the middle of a misdemeanor. :-)

It was later identified as a Japanese Silverberry (Elaeagnus umbellata), a noxious plant for this area. Greeeat.

Near it was a shrub of craziness...crazy with its shape and crazy with all the colors the leaves were turning.

It turned out to be a forsythia.

I never knew forsythias had such a dramatic color change in the fall.

Nearby was another forsythia, in bloom, no leaves.

Thinking I had left crazy and wild behind, it was easy to identify a crab apple...

But how long has that rusted green stake been leaning against the tree? Enough for the poor tree to grow around it. Oh my, what to do but move on.

Because the sun was starting to set.

But not before I looked at one more tree of wild and crazy. This weeping mulberry also survived the fire...I have no idea how but it did. It is such a mangled mess but I salute if for being a survivor of fire and neglect. It's going to be a pruning nightmare to wrestle this guy into some sort of shape but it will look so much better once it's no longer feral(!). Truthfully, I'm a little intimidated by the thing.

Except for all the oaks and my one maple, there are a lot of crazy trees and shrubs on that land. But I then noticed this tree politely bowing good-bye. Those roots look like an extra-long kimono.

Trees are such fascinating old things. It's hard not to find a story in them. It will be fun to learn more about the trees that are on the land and also to figure out which trees to plant in the future. I'm torn between planting native trees for this area and bringing in exotics. On my list so far is a tulip poplar, a weeping willow, a white pine and lots and lots of dogwoods. I know I have one on the land but I want more, and then I want even more after that.

Anyway, it was another fun day doing important research work with my friend Aussie Mueller. More research and identification to be done later. :-)


Country Girl said...

We have a tree identification book, the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. Sibley's is another good one. My husband studied dendrology in college and somewhere in a box are some good books from that course. (He quit early).
I love trees. You have so many interesting (and a couple of creepy) ones on this property!

Mental P Mama said...

That place is wonderful....aren't you so happy you took the plunge? And that Aussie is kidnap-able;)

Hilary said...

What a wonderful property and such beautiful trees. I love trees too and feel like they hold many tales. Thanks for the guided tour.

Maria said...

Kate-It's fun to contrast them with the ones I have in my current yard which are so civilized compared to the unpruned madness going on in the country. I do love trees. Wild or civilized.

Mental. I KNOW. I cannot believe the hell I went through in my head earlier this year when I was in the middle of buying the place. Now it's all I can do to NOT think about it because it makes me so happy. And bonus, I get to spend some time with that Aussie. :-)

Hilary-Oh I'm sure there will be more tales. Lots more of them. :-)

Maureen said...

Nice little tour, love watching the progress.

Maria said...

Maureen-Thank you for calling it "progress." I do like to stare and imagine and think and plan and research....and after all that, things kind of never get done....or even started sometimes!

But it will be so much fun to be out there permanently so I can get into every plant's and animal's and insect's business. And even if I don't, I still get a lot of satisfaction staring and imagining and thinking....oh I am such an excellent procrastinator.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Dead trees offer important habitat for all sorts of creatures. Leave 'em alone -- save money, and feel good about offering a home and foor source to the birds!