Monday, February 17, 2014

Oak Trees around the Homestead

I have several trees around the homestead that are notoriously short lived.  It is time to start planting their replacements so I can have a smooth succession of shade.

My current plan is to move a 4' tall Burr Oak (Q. macrocarpa) from the garden to the north side of my house.  The seed for this Burr Oak came from a NAFEX member, Lucky Pittman, several years ago.  The parent tree was growing beside the First Baptist Church parking lot in Hopkinsville, Ky.  It has had no problems enduring Michigan winters. 

I also plan to move an 8' Swamp White Oak (Q. bicolor) to the south side of my house. 

I am pondering what to graft over them.  My current inclination is to graft scionwood from the McBaine Burr Oak on the Burr Oak on the north side and a Q. x byarsii (Q. macrocarpa X michauxii) on the south side of my house. 

That would mean my house was bracketed by Q. bicolor to the west, Q. macrocarpa to the north, Q. muehlenbergii to the east and Q. x byarsii to the south.

Further afield

Out back I have many seedling oaks of no distinguished parentage.  A few show slightly better form than the others.  My plan is to practice my grafting on some of them as well.  That is where any extra McBaine scionwood will go. 

Typical branching habit of Q. robur

Seedling of Q. robur with semi-fastigiate form.

Q. robur, in particular, seems to tend toward narrow crotch angles.  I suspect that it is an unintended legacy of early importation/selection for fastigiate forms.

Q. robur has its flaws (crotch angles, powdery mildew, susceptibility to borers) but it it grows fast and produced huge amounts of acorns.

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