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Trees With Eugene Higgins!

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Planting trees does not only make our gardens nicer. They also give Mother Nature a helping hand. Eugene is back with us today to tell us more about the importance of trees.

Trees are the largest living organisms in the world. Plants and especially trees are primary producers. They produce food in the leaves by photosynthesis, taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, combining it with water and the energy of sunlight. This food which forms the beginning of the food chain is essential for all other forms of life.

Ireland has fewer trees than any other country in Europe. Our forest cover is approximately 6% of the land area compared with over 20% for the rest of Europe. State forests exceed 400,000 hectare (1m acres) and are of increasing importance to the economy. 60% of our domestic timber needs are currently supplied from Irish forests. The mild and moist climate of Ireland favours the rapid growth of trees. Trees in Ireland have good soil, a ready supply of water and there are no extremes of temperature to check their growth. Because of these factors trees grow over three times faster in Ireland than they do in mainland Europe.
The Benefit of Trees
. We need trees because they are beautiful; enrich our lives and are nature's way of renewing the air that we breathe
. To breathe - trees absorb carbon dioxide and give oxygen for us to breathe - a necessity of life. A mature tree produces a significant amount of oxygen in any given year. Trees also help to filter dust and pollution. A single row of trees can reduce street dust in the air by 25%
. to soften our sometimes drab surroundings, to screen ugly buildings and to create space & to shelter us, our buildings, and our crops from wind, heat loss, rain and strong sunshine
. To maintain the balance of nature. By their seasonal changes trees create a habitat for plants and wildlife
. For timber to build our houses and schools and to make paper. All the books that you read and even this fact sheet started life as a tree
. To make the landscapes more varied and interesting and to provide food and shelter for birds, insects and other animals. Broad leaved trees help to keep the soil healthy and productive by bringing up essential minerals from the soil and returning them to the ground in the form of autumn leaves, which make the best and richest organic compost for your gardening.
Care of Trees Before Planting
If bare rooted trees have been purchased for planting, the roots should be covered with damp hessian to prevent them drying out. Never leave the roots of trees exposed to drying winds. If there will be a delay before the trees are planted in their final location then they should be temporarily "heeled-in" to a prepared trench before planting.
Planting Trees
Bare rooted trees should be planted when the trees are dormant, that is from the beginning of November until the end of March. Container grown trees can be planted all year round but the trees must be well watered if planted during the summer months. Planting of trees should not take place when the ground is frozen or water-logged. Avoid periods of cold drying winds especially with evergreen trees.
How to Plant Your Tree
Before planting, dig a pit wide enough to take the spread of the roots and deep enough to have the tree at the same level in the soil as it was in the nursery. (You can see this level by looking at the base of the trunk where there-is a colour change between what has been below ground and what has been above). Then you will come to what is called subsoil which is easily recognisable because of its lightness of colour. This subsoil should be removed and not re-used and in its place use fresh topsoil or compost which should be mixed with four ounces of a general fertiliser. Break up the bottom soil in the hole and mix with peat moss or leaf mould-not fresh animal manure. Trees should be staked. The stake should be 4.5' to 5' (1.5m) (approx) in length and be driven in before planting to two-thirds of its length on the prevailing wind side of the stem. Hold the tree at the correct level and spread out the roots in the bottom of the pit. While replacing the soil, shake the tree to help the soil settle around the roots. Firm gently and then more strongly as the final soil level is reached. Remember to give the tree a good watering after planting, to settle the soil around the roots, using at least one bucketful of water, applied slowly to avoid runoff. The tree should then be secured to the stake with a durable strap like material which will not damage the tree stem. There should also be a spacer on the tree tie to act as a buffer between the tree and the stake. A mulch of organic material such as compost or well rotted manure, coarse moss peat or bark placed at the base of the tree will help it to establish quickly by conserving water and controlling weeds.
The tree should be watered during dry weather in its first year and the area around the tree should be kept free of grass and weeds for the first three years.

Trees With Eugene
. The Evergreen Tree
Acacia -"Wattles" - €19.95
Zebra under an Acacia Tree
Yellow Berries on Tree with Giraffe Peering Over
This Australian plant likes warmer climates, hence it has been thriving here in the past few years as temperatures rise due to global warming.
. Leylandii - €9.95
This tree is sometimes labeled "the scourge of the urban garden". It grows so fast that people don't know what to do with it. It can also become an eyesore, blocking out light from small urban gardens if not cut properly.

Flowers With Eugene
. "Purple Leaf Plum" - Prunus ceasifera Nigra - €29.95
This tree boasts small, delicate flowers and really dramatic red foliage.
. Hawthorn - "Crataegus Pauls Scarlett" - €29.95
Fully Grown Hawthorn Tree
This tree is often believed to be native but is in fact American. There is also a hedge variety of Hawthorn.
. Flowering Cherry, Prunus upright - €39.00 and weeping - €39.00
Weeping Cherry
Because of the shallow root system of the cherry tree it is often guilty of pulling up pavements in rural areas. That aside the stunning flowers associated with Japanese festival time makes it a firm favourite with most gardeners.

Going Native
. "Mountain ash" - Sorbus Aucuparia - €39.95
Rowan Berries on Tree
This native tree is covered with red/ orange berries in Autumn.
. Betula "silver Birch" - €39.95
Fully Grown Tree
This is also a native tree with a stunning white trunk. With its beautiful wispy branches this tree is all about its shape in winter (when the branches are bare).
. Poplar - €19.95
Fully Grown Tree
The Poplar acts a bit like a weed, laying down suckers underground and sprouting up around the garden. However it's interesting, colourful leaves redeem it in many gardeners' eyes.

"Bring Wallflowers Back into Fashion"
Wallflowers have gone out of vogue of late but Eugene still loves them so this demo is an attempt to restore their reputation in the garden!
Eugene will demonstarte with packet of seeds into plastic tray and compost on top.
Packet of Seeds - €2.50 - "Monarch Fair Lady"

Eugene's tips
. Poinsettias , the Christmas flower, if you are going to keep them we need to repot and put in suitable temp, this is the best time of year to do it.
. Mow your lawn in different directions, as if you keep doing it the same way the lawn won't cut as well.