July 08, 2014
It's the height of summer and our Shagbark Hickories (Carya ovata) are saving us money on our air-conditioning (A/C) bill.
I'm joining Loose and Leafy's "tree following" meme each month with updates on our twin Shagbark trees.
This is the time of year when they really earn their keep! I rarely turn on the A/C anyway, until temperatures hit about 85F/30C and higher. But fortunately, we've been hovering around 80F/27C for several weeks--which is perfectly comfortable in my book. It's fabulous to have the windows open, with fresh air pouring in!
The Shagbarks help, no matter how hot it gets. The other day, I walked from the sunny west-side potager to the shade of the Shagbarks, and the temperature seemed to drop about 10 degrees! Their patch of ground provides deep shade for humans, other mammals, birds, and other critters.
Other observations about the Shagbarks in July:
It's true what they say about moss: It does, indeed grow on the north side of the tree. There's a bit of moss on the other sides, but a very healthy patch on the north. The tree bark also has a healthy coating of lichens.
Earlier in the growing season, I noticed there were holes in some of the leaves. I don't believe the infestation has gotten any worse, but the leaves are now larger and the holes are bigger. The leaves are never perfect, but they seem a little more affected this year. I'm pretty sure it's a sign of sawflies. I'm monitoring it, but my understanding is that the trees should be fine if we don't have repeated infestations. I'll try some organic treatments of the soil around the trees--where next year's larvae will hatch.
Many of the leaves are near-perfect: Catching the sun in their capillaries and carrying on the miracle of photosynthesis.
Hickory nuts--a definite hit with our resident squirrels--are forming. I'd estimate these are about one inch in diameter at this point.
The bark is as interesting as ever. The heart shape that I've included in previous posts is now aging and splitting, and I'm starting to see other shapes (maybe a good post for next month).
Is there a bat up there? Indiana and Little Brown Bats often use Hickories for daytime roosting. (Check out the link: It's fascinating!)
All in all, the Shagbark Hickories are looking good. Plenty of moisture, warmth, and sunshine should help them recover from 2012's drought and last winter's polar vortex. Their deep taproots (several feet deep, depending on the soil) protect them from both extremes, but also make them difficult to transplant.
To learn how other bloggers' trees are faring this July, visit Lucy at Loose and Leafy. Happy tree following!