Sunday, March 15, 2009

Forest From The Trees

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A bright sunny day here in Vermont today. The temperature is up to 50 degrees on the sunny side of the house and I can almost see the ice melting off the driveway. In a few minutes I'm going to put on the snowshoes and head out into the woods for an hour or so.

Forests are friends to me and I fear for their health on the one hand while also being thankful for all they do for us. On our Vermont Flower Farm web site I wrote a piece years ago entitled "Our Forests, Our Responsibilities." That page will be available for a few more days so if you are interested, look at and see what I wrote. The whole subject means more to me today than the day I wrote those thoughts.

All forests have a life term dependent upon the tree composition. The following picture shows a stand of red pine that was planted over forty years ago. They weren't well cared for so they did not produce as much growth as intended but they are still somewhat of an asset. This time of year the returning crows find refuge there, barred owls eat their evening meals of rodents from lofty perches, and incoming flocks of robins find refuge in large numbers when they return in the midst of spring snowstorms.

We need to do a better job teaching our children the importance of forests and what they can do to help nurture good forests around the world. This next picture is from several years ago when Alex took an introductory forestry course. There were seven or eight home school kids and they obviously felt comfortable in the woods and they learned a lot. We need more programs like this one!

Sometimes we have to take advantage of an assortment of tools to make the woods feel more comfortable to each other. I have been walking the forests since I was five or six. I have had good teachers and that's made it easier for me. Just the same I am quick to walk with anyone who has more skill than me and I reference new books and guides as they come along.

You have probably heard of the Arbor Day Foundation before. They have released a great book named What TREE Is That? Here is some background on an excellent pocket guide.

What TreeIs That? A guide to the more common
trees found in North America

"The Arbor Day Foundation is offering for the first time a tree identification in book form. What Tree Is That?: A guide to the more common trees of North America, published by the Arbor Day Foundation, is a perfect resource to help people identify trees in a simple step-by-step process.

What Tree Is That? will help people identify more than 250 species of trees that live and grow in North America. The book uses a step-by-step approach to identifying trees, explaining what to look for determining the species for a specific tree, such as the shape of the leaves, the differences in the leaf stems and twig structures, the fruits and flowers, and the details of buds and bark."

What Tree Is That? features advanced, hand-drawn illustrations of many distinctive characteristics of many species of trees in full color. The book was illustrated by Karina Helm, who specializes in scientific illustrations."

I'll detail more about the book on The Vermont Gardener in the next day or so. In the meantime, learn to tell the trees in the forest and help new generations learn too! Click on
What Tree Is That? It's available at bookstores and on Amazon beginning April 1, 2009.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a fine day has developed! If you haven't purchased or ordered vegetable seeds yet, you better get going. Estimates for seed sales suggest as much as a 19% increase in sales this year. Plant start sales may reach the 100's of % increases. While you're at it, consider putting a copy of What Tree Is That? on hold.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm


garden girl said...

Hi George! This post triggered some fond childhood memories of walks in my grandparent's woods and orchards, and my own suburban backyard that was a mini-forest with its 46 trees (not counting really big shrubs.)

I couldn't agree more about the importance of teaching children about forests (and nature in general.)

Your photos are beautiful, and remind me of my mom's property in SW Wisconsin.

Thanks for the book recommendation - sounds like a good one to add to our library.

I hope some of the struggling independent nurseries can capitalize on the vegetable gardening boom this year to help keep themselves afloat during this rough economy.

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