Last updated: July 25. 2013 9:14AM - 232 Views

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Dudley Wooten

Outdoors Columnist

Variety is the spice of many elements in our life. We need the diversity to ward off boredom and promote longevity and interest in whatever we do. I know I need this variety in my daily life to motivate and spark interest. We’re usually not doing the same thing two days in a row. This is one of the reasons to have the tree nursery. It allows me to do my own research and development on the varieties of shade, ornamental, evergreen, weeping, and fruit trees.

This allows me to know and have the specific answer to the variety of customer wants and needs. The most common customer thoughts are a certain look, function, size, and price. This could apply to trees, shrubs, design, lawn, and/or hardscape. Everyone wants to be unique, but everyone still wants the everyday basics of looks, function, and budget.

This selection of variety enables me to show you the tree that exhibits the pale yellow or brilliant orange/red foliage in autumn. This same variety lets us match you with the tree that grows fast and achieves 35’ – 40’ or the tree that lives in the confines of the 8’ shrub bed between the walk and the house.

When the request is for privacy, the request is also for fast growth. It’s the variation within the varieties that will determine your best choice. Fast growth might be in height, width, or fullness. All will come eventually, but pines grow taller quicker, and spruce get fuller quicker. This is true, because pines put on terminal growth, and spruce have branches on branches. Fast growth only applies to those who live. It’s the 30 years of nursery that separate my trees from the pretty tag at the discount store, and it’s the root system, that is hanging out of the pot when you lift it out of the nursery bed, where it’s lived for 2 to 10 years.

This variation of hardiness zones that are promoted at discount stores will eat you up. It’s the idea of being grown here and acclimated here that assures the success of the tree.

When I started this business 30 years ago, we had 3-4 varieties of weepers. We now have weeping cherry, crabapple, birch, beech, filbert, katsura, willow, spruce, cypress, and cedar. Why do we do this? No two spaces available are identical. Some locations need a typical umbrella head and others need a weeper that only weeps one way. Why? The directional weeper allows you to put the flat side closer to the house and still see the fuller, weeping side for curb appeal.

What allows the shade tree to never need topped or pruned? The answer is its semi-dwarf rootstock, which it’s grafted on. What guarantees the bright red fall color of the shade tree? That would be the selection of top stock (scion) that you choose to graft on the semi-dwarf rootstock.

When it comes to ornamental trees, do you want pink, red, or white bloom? Do you want bright, persistent fruit or no fruit? Do you want yellow or red fall color? Do you need wide, round, weeping or narrow upright? Once we run this gauntlet of questions and decisions, it’s the redbud, birch, dogwood, katsura, cherry, or the 12 varieties of flowering crabapple that will fit the bill.

With respect to variety and fruit trees, this is a whole new ballgame and a different day.

With all these choices, 99% are happy with the selection, and the suggested variety, but there is occasionally that 1% that demands the humanly impossible. After 10,000 trees and untold varieties are proven not to suffice, sometimes you just have to conclude with, “After much consideration and deliberation, it becomes self-evident that we do trees – not miracles.”

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