December 06, 2014

A Year in the Life of the Shagbark Hickories

bark

And so we come full circle with our "tree following" posts. What a wonderful learning experience this has been!

Lucy at Loose and Leafy hosts this tree following meme, and it's been a privilege to participate this year. I dedicated my posts to our twin Shagbark Hickories (Carya ovata). Each month revealed new things about them. (To read earlier posts, click this link or search for "Shagbark" in my search bar).

Now in my part of the world, December and November have switched places this year. I have no images to show of snow catching on the bark of the Shagbarks, because we've hit a patch of mild weather. There's even talk of a non-white Christmas here in Southern Wisconsin. (Whether this happens or not, I won't be the one to complain about a mild December.)

Here are my December 2014 garden observations about the Shagbark Hickories:

leaves on snow

Most years, the Hickories lose at least some of their leaves before the snow flies. This year, the snow dropped first--in early November. Slip-sliding around with a rake didn't make much sense, so my chores are delayed.

It's interesting to trace where some of the leaves have fallen.

bench

No picnics on this bench for a while.

planter

Hickory leaves are mixed with Oaks as winter mulch for the hardy plants in one of my pots.

draped

Some of the curled leaves are impaled on the nearby Lilac shrub.

chestnut

The color and texture of the dried Hickory leaves reminds me of cognac-colored leather.

moss and lichen

Even in winter, the trees host healthy mosses and lichens.

hairy

A few avian visitors fly from the feeders to the Hickory branches and back again. This photo of a Hairy Woodpecker was taken a few weeks ago, before the Hickory leaves (in the background) dropped.

trunk

Though the branches are now bare, the Hickories remain strong and stately.

buds

And their winter buds portend the promise of another year of life.

Thanks to Lucy at Loose and Leafy for hosting the tree following meme. Visit her blog on the 7th of each month to learn more about trees from around the world.

I'm also linking in with Michelle's Nature Notes at Rambling Woods.

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(Thanks to those who've participated in and commented on PlantPosting's "Lessons Learned" meme. The meme remains open indefinitely, and we'd love to learn from your experiences. Click here or on the "Lessons Learned" tab to participate.)

42 comments:

  1. That's good, the weather is conducive to this tree and let it be. Regards.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Giga! Yes, this tree can handle the extremes, that's for sure. I'm sure it would struggle in a dry desert or the brutal arctic, but it handles deep, dry winter cold and hot, humid summers quite well.

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  2. What a great story! I like how you ended with the new bud for next season. My favorite photos are of the curled and brown leaves. Nice work.

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    1. Thanks, Jane. If I didn't think about it or contemplate it, I might find the curled, dead leaves ugly and unsightly. But there's beauty even in this stage of dormancy.

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  3. This is a fascinating post. There are no Hickory trees around here that I have noticed; we have an abundance of the related Pecan.

    When I was a child, we had a huge Hickory at the far side of a pasture. Daddy used to sharpen horseshoe nails for us to use as nutpicks. Hickory nuts have a wonderful flavor not quite as sharp as Black Walnut.

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    1. Thank you, Jean! I haven't been successful at harvesting the nuts before the squirrels get to them (we have so many!). I did try a Hickory nut this fall, but it was harvested before its time and tasted bitter. I do love Walnuts, though, so I'm sure I would like ripe Hickory nuts, too. Thanks for sharing your story about the Hickory of your childhood.

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  4. I love the tree you chose....the bark and the curling leaves....great shots of it in late fall Beth.

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    1. Thank you, Donna. It's one of those trees that's unique, but not uncommon in its range. I've heard tree experts recommend it as one of many options for replacing Ash trees.

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  5. I would be surprised if we did not have the white Christmas here. We have had so much snow and some is predicted. Your tree has made the year. No lighting strikes. A friend of mine just lost a Hickory in a storm. Sad to see big trees downed.

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    1. I suppose it's too early to tell for us, but we're hearing forecasts of a major warming trend for next week, and it's not all that cold (for us) right now. Yes, the Hickories survived the year (and many more before this one). They were established trees when we moved here 15 years ago. I think we're more likely to lose one or more of our Oaks. They suffered more in the drought of 2012. Our neighbors had to have some Oaks removed because they were hollow in the middle. :(

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  6. That's a great meme! I love hickory trees and wish I had some of the upland species.

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    1. Yes, I agree! I love this meme. One of the best things about the Shagbarks is that they provide year-round interest. In the summer, we take them for granted, but they welcome the wildlife. :)

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  7. Hi Beth, This is such a great meme. Looks like you really got up close and personal with this tree. You learned a lot about hickories , and thanks for sharing what you learned. Like Jane said - a great story.

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    1. Yes, isn't it a good meme! I see the Hickories right outside my kitchen window, so yes, we're up close and personal every day. ;-) I borrowed the idea of shooting up into the bark and the branches from some other photographers. I think it makes for a compelling impression of just about any tree. Thanks for your kind comments, Sue.

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  8. Oh, the gorgeous tree here! And the woodpecker, the appearance of the moss, the curly leaves...all signs of life doing what it does. This Christmas, I am especially focusing more on nature and for the first time, I have a real tree. Such a nice change for me from the tinsel and glitz, and I can even feel it.

    Thank you so much for coming over. Glad to hear your daughter fell in love with Paris; it happens. I don't know what it is, but it's quite a city.

    HAPPY SUNDAY! Anita

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    1. Ah, enjoy that live Christmas tree! We've always gone the live route. I'm thinking we always will, but we'll see. Yes, my daughter still speaks fondly of Paris. It appears it was inspirational for her in similar ways as it was for you. I do hope to get there some day, as well. :)

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  9. I love all of your shots--showing life and the promise of life in the midst of winter's dormancy. That woodpecker--so intent on getting his meal. And the photo of the Shagbark, looking up--stately is the right word.

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    1. Thanks! I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get any snow-on-the-bark photos, but not too disappointed. ;-) There will be time for that this winter, I'm sure. The Hickories and the feeders are nicely placed to encourage many birds to visit, which makes me happy.

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  10. A very worthy and beautiful tree. I would love to have one. I also think I would rather have leather-colored cognac than the other way round. We are seeing lots of woodpeckers these days, mostly downies and red-bellies.

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    1. Cognac-colored leather/leather-colored-cognac: Both sound pleasant to me. ;-) We had quite a few red-bellies during August-October, and then they must have shifted south a bit. (Or maybe they're hanging out by the lake more.) The hairies and downies (along with cardinals, chickadees, and finches) are frequent year-round visitors. If you ever add a Shagbark, keep in mind that the taproot is very deep. Other than that, it's a good landscape tree in a yard that has plenty of space.

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  11. I've really enjoyed seeing your shagbark hickory through all the seasons, Beth. Such a stately tree with such interesting bark. November and December have been switched around here, too. I've been waiting for the first snowfall to get out and take some photos again. But after last year, maybe I should be careful what I wish for:)

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    1. Thanks, Rose. I agree: I'm being very careful what I wish for. We had enough brutal winter last year to last a decade (a lifetime?). ;-) It made a "normal" winter seem (almost) pleasant. I hope we both have a mild rest of December, with maybe a light dusting of snow on Christmas morning.

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  12. I am a great admirer of your beautiful tree. So majestic. I love your woodpecker too.

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    1. Thank you, Chloris. The Shagbarks (we have a pair of them) do add personality to the garden. And they bring the bird visitors, which is fabulous!

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  13. What a great tree for winter interest, though, with such beautiful bark! Such gorgeous trees. I hope we all get a milder winter this year!

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    1. Hi Indie: Yes, it's a welcome sight outside my kitchen window during every season! So far, the transition to winter has been very strange here in Wisconsin. A sudden crash of bitter cold in November, and now we'll have highs near 50 on the weekend in mid-December. That's nice weather for all the holiday traveling and shopping, though. :)

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  14. The bark is spectacular! It really lives up to its name in your first photo.

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    1. Yes, the bark is its most distinctive quality ... except in late spring, when the buds look like candles. That's quite a sight to see! :)

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  15. I really love that bark. I wish I could plant a forty foot mature one right now.

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    1. The bark is fun, isn't it? We were fortunate to inherit these trees when we moved here 15 years ago. We noticed them right away. Sadly, I don't have photos of how they looked then to compare size. But they certainly are stately now.

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  16. Your perseverance is following the life of trees is of admiration!! Thanks for sharing it with us, and for doing a great job in inspiring about love to trees!

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    1. Thanks, Lula. Oh yes, trees, in general, are fabulous! In many ways, they're underappreciated. It has been my pleasure to take this "tree following" journey with fellow gardeners and bloggers this year. :)

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  17. Your post on the Shagbark is so timely for me. A friend just sent me a photo of one of these interesting trees just the other day asking me about it so I forwarded him a link to your post. I too have an admiration for trees, especially ones that have extraordinary bark!

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    1. Great! I highly recommend this tree in its native range--which includes most of Eastern and Central North America. It requires very little maintenance (light trimming, raking), and welcomes and supports plentiful wildlife!

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  18. Great series of photos. The weather has been rather odd this year, hasn't it? January temps in November, now a milder December. I don't mind the coming temps in the 40s, but I do prefer a white Christmas.

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    1. Thank you, Heather. Yes, the weather is weird. I couldn't agree with you more on all counts!

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  19. Yes, the bark is truly stunning, and I also love your Hairy Woodpecker!

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    1. Hi Caroline: Trying to catch up on comments. Thanks for stopping by! The bark of the Hickories is a pleasant sight year-round. Happy Holidays!

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  20. Truly a wonderful tree, and the images of the leaves are very nice. I love the beauty of fallen leaves!

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    1. Thanks, Deb. Fallen leaves are beautiful, but they are often perceived as messy. I admit, I feel that, too, at times. I can't believe I was raking them up in December! Weird late autumn weather this year. But the Hickory continues to charm. :)

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