Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter Tree Care in Asia? Yes, and No.

My son-in-law is traveling through China and Korea currently on business. He's been sending back photos from his Blackberry of things that might be of interest. In return, I have been sending him handy phrases in the native languages to ingratiate himself with the locals.

For example, he ought to try this out on the streets of Korea: "sogdoleul bodeo ppal-a" 
("your speed skaters suck"). 

But I do admire the Koreans' winter protection plan for their thin-barked trees: broom corn! 

Winter bark protection is usually an afterthought in cold climates; it should be a regular practice, according to the tree experts at Washington State University: "Sun scald occurs on sunny days in winter when the bark of a tree is warmed by the sun, especially on the southwest side of the trunk. The bark and cambial tissues deacclimate and are not able to reacclimate quickly enough when the sun sets and the temperature drops abruptly. The result is damage or death of tissue.The bark often cracks open or it may separate from the tree without splitting. Sun scald is more prevalent on stressed, recently transplanted, smooth-barked, or thin-barked trees. Wrap the trunks of recently transplanted trees and those which may have been stressed during the growing season with a light-colored wrapping from the soil line to the first set of branches. Leave this material on for the first winter and through the first growing season."

I'm not thrilled with the large stones placed around the tree (reduces the availability of water, may get too hot in summer), but I understand why they are there: to keep people off the root area. That is one of the tradeoffs of trees in public places. 

Still, it is better than what we do here: plunk a tree down in the middle of an hot asphalt parking lot, in a 5x5' concrete frame, with a gravel groundcover, and a broken sprinkler.

 During his visit to China, he sent along this picture. I offered him an appropriate phrase, which I suggested he yell at the local Beijing arborists:
"Bu ding bu de shu!" ("Don't Top That Tree!")

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