The Garden Diva

The Garden Diva (TGD) is my alter ego. She's expansive, gregarious, informed and loves to teach other's about gardening. Oh, and she's a tiny bit opinionated. She (I) write(s) a column for our local community paper, the famous, the infamous Rat Creek Press!

I thought I'd post her column here.

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.
- Bill Vaughan

Dear Readers, this last December, The Gardening Diva and The trés wonderful Gardening Diva husband suffered a tragic loss. Winter has been a sorrowful time for us, and we have looked forward to the planting of a tree to mark a small, much missed life. Trees are an important part of our lives: we play in them, harvest their fruit, garden around them, sit underneath them and mark our holidays by decorating them with lights. Indeed, dear readers, trees remain a great symbol of life. One of the few garden plants that will outlive us, they are a powerful testament to the optimism of a gardener.

In this column, I shall discuss a few elements of choos­ing a tree.

Find out how large in height and spread we can expect the tree to grow. TGD is aware that right now your wee tree is only a foot tall, but it is unreasonable for a gardener to refuse to acknowledge that the cute little sapling will turn into a Manitoba maple like my neighbours’tree—some 25 metres tall, with a spread of 15 metres. So think dear reader, can you fit that huge tree into your tiny lot?

To fruit or not
TGD still cringes at the horror of relentless, unending, tiny, little crab apples that TGD’s mother insisted on turning into jelly, lest they rot on the ground. Fruit can be wonderful, but only if you pick it, prepare it in some way and store it. If you let it rot dear reader, you may rest assured that it will be nothing more than a meal for wasps and a reason for your neighbours to protest. Having said that, there are varieties of cherries, plums, apples, and even pears that will thrive in our zone three climate. Consider purchasing a tree that is not only beautiful, but practical as well. Pay close attention, trees may require mates to produce fruit.

To flower or not
Around about the second week of May, TGD begins to smell the most wonderful fragrance. For years, she knew it wasn’t lilacs, and it wasn’t the salt bush tree in her neighbours front yard (although it is very pretty); it was a mayday tree. Covered with small white flowers, sometimes mistaken for a lilac, these trees are very fragrant, and one of the first trees to leaf out in spring. Flowering trees are a wonderful hint of spring in a garden that is still partly asleep.

Interesting texture and winter colour
Remember dear reader, your tree will only have leaves for perhaps six months—you will want to consider what the tree looks like in winter. Consider planting evergreens, often the only bits of colour in our white winter landscape. TGD is also particularly fond of the rowan tree (mountain ash). These won­derful trees have a lovely bronzy bark and orange berries. So then, a few trees to think about: consider an amur maple for beautiful fall colour, a columnar aspen for wonderful foliage in a narrow space, a weeping caragana to add interest to a small space, or a mogul.

TGD and the trés wonderful Gardening Diva husband will be planting a Young’s weeping birch, to remember their lost love.