The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

Should we start to plant rice paddies?

- by JR Pandy, Pandy’s Garden Center

Rain, rain and more rain. It just keeps coming down. It’s pretty depressing and it’s making it very difficult to get anything done in the yard or garden. The poor farmers fields are just a soupy mix. Those that planted earlier in hopes of an early spring have seen their seeds rot in the fields. Maybe planting rice would be a viable option? It’s got to get warmer and that thing we knew at the sun has to appear soon .... right ???? I guess when the sun does decide to shine, we will appreciate it more!!

And when it warms up and the temperatur­e rises, it will be great to seek sanctuary under the cooling shade of a tree.

When buying new homes, bulldozers come in and flatten yards out disturbing roots of trees which have grown strong for a long time and ultimately leave you with a barren landscape. Trees are the answer!

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time to plant is now. Adding a few choice placed trees on your property adds great interest to your landscape.

Shade trees which can grow 35-60 tall are a nice addition. Red oak, red sunset or October glory maples are probably the number one sellers at my store. These trees offer quick establishm­ent and display fall foliage in colors of orange to reds. Sugar maples also do a fine job in fall with displays of yellow to orange.

Two trees I like to plant near each other are Crimson Sunset and Princeton Gold Norway maples. The yellow, (Princeton Gold), combined with the deep purple red leaves (Crimson Sunset) are quite stunning when planted in proximity. A relatively new tree, the Crimson Sunset offers a quicker growing red-purple leaf maple than its predecesso­r, the Crimson King maple. The Crimson Sunset holds its leaves deep into fall months, unlike the Crimson king which seem to drop leaves anywhere from late September to mid October.

My favorite tree of all times is the tri-color beech. A slow grower, the leaves have white margins with pink and then purple centers. It is a stunner and given time can achieve some height and width.

Other shade trees worth looking at are Sunburst Locust trees which have small leaves but can reach some size as well as Black or Sour Gum trees. They offer an almost ember like color in the fall of the year. White birch and river birch are great trees also. Remember if you plant a white trunk birch tree, you must treat every year with tree and shrub drench from Bayer or Fertilome. A once a year applicatio­n will keep the bronze birch borer from killing your tree. Nothing compares to a nice size white trunk birch tree once it matures. Royal frost which has a purple leaf and white trunk deserves some notice as well.

Katsura trees are medium growers reaching 40-50’ tall and offer a blue green leaf with a nice oval shape to it. The scent of cotton candy permeates the air around these trees at different times and especially ion the fall. A weeping variety of katsura is also available and is an awesome site when this plant reaches maturity.

Medium size trees or ornamental trees offer nice flowers in every color and heights which can range from 15-25’ tall. They provide a little shade and are great near corners of homes at the edges of houses.

Look at trees like flowering plum with pink flowers in spring followed by purplish red leaves through fall. Redbuds have an almost electric pink neon flower in spring and come in green or red leaf varieties. Korean Dogwoods are great for pink or white flowers in full sun areas of the yard. Eastern dogwoods must be planted in shade of other trees for best growing chances. They tend to burn in full sun as they can not handle the heat of a hot afternoon day. Flowering pears establish quickly and offer a nice white display of flowers in spring.

Another popular medium tree in the flower cherries in white or pink. Why not bring the Washington D.C. flower festival to your home with the addition of a Kwanzan pink or Yoshino white cherry planted at your yard? Cherries do not like being wet at all so a dry well draining condition would be great for them.

Japanese tree lilacs have also gained popularity. The white to cream blossoms in June are a welcome surprise in late May through June. Many cities advocate planting these as approved tree lawn trees. Rich green or golden leaf varieties are available.

And let’s not forget the flowering crabapple trees whose spring display is breathtaki­ng. Pink, white or red flowers cover every branch in springtime.

Small trees are also great for areas you need a little height but don’t want anything too big. Nurseries started grafting regular shrubs on standards 3-4’ tall. Essentiall­y you get a “tree on a stick”. Dwarf Korean lilacs, weigelias, hydrangeas and even burning bush are available. Essentiall­y the lollipop look gives you a short trunk and flowering small tree.

Hydrangea trees are probably the most popular with hues of lime green to white to red as summer and fall arrives.

Let’s not forget the weeping Japanese maples in many different varieties. These are pest and disease free and tough little trees. They grow slow, like a well-drained soil and offer a small size of 5x5’ in 30 years. Some varieties may get larger but can easily be kept any size.

Weeping varieties of flowering cherries, Japanese snowbell, redbuds or even cotoneaste­rs or pea shrubs are great little trees as well. Check out the deciduous weeping larch which offers an awesome look and a great addition to a landscape.

Consult your tree expert for more options and plant those trees now. Twenty years from now, you will be awfully glad you did. And during these times of drought,(if that ever happens), water your plants, even if they have been in for a while. A good drink now will help them be healthy and strong through the coming months and years in the future.

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