English Cottage Gardening – Plant An Apple Tree For Arbor Day

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This Friday, April 26 is Arbor Day in the US. It’s a day when individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees.

Arbor Day originated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872 and an estimated one million trees were planted that day. Many countries now observe a similar holiday.

Planting trees is also very good for honey bees.

Did you know that trees provide most of the surplus nectar and pollen for bees?  Or that 5 or 6 trees produce as much nectar and pollen as a whole field of wildflowers?

Most people don’t.  That’s unfortunate because planting a tree, especially in an urban area, is one of the most effective things you can do to help save the bees.

So what kind of tree belongs in an English cottage garden? The only trees that can be said to be truly authentic to the cottage garden are fruit and nut trees. An added bonus is that bees love them!

The notion of planting a tree for shade would have been totally foreign to cottage gardeners. A tree was worthy of space in the garden only for what it could produce for the table. Most of these traditional trees weren’t large and were further pruned back to reduce their height for ease of harvest.

Cottage Garden with Apple Tree

Cottage Garden with Apple Tree

Apple trees were by far the most common type of tree found in a cottage garden. Cultivars which are especially suitable are Heyer #20, Parkland, and Rutherford.

So plant a tree and save a bee this Arbor Day!

Trees For Bees – The Linden Tree

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Linden trees, also known as bee trees and basswood trees (and as lime trees in Europe), are large trees that grow in four-season climates all over the world. These trees can reach 80 feet in height and have a 40-foot spread.

The trees bloom in June and July and their yellow flowers are highly aromatic. They are extremely popular with honey bees (leading to the colloquial name of “bee-tree”), and you can buy basswood honey made almost exclusively from these trees.  Linden trees have the reputation of producing some of the best honey in the world. It has been described as “delicate and mild, and has warm herbal notes and a clean finish.”

Linden trees grow in plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. The coldest temperatures in zone 3 can reach 40 below zero and 12 below zero in zone 8. Besides temperature, soil conditions influence the success of linden trees. They like finer soils that drain well but hold enough water to support the tree.

Linden trees

Linden trees are successful when planted wherever there is excellent to good farming soils. They prefer slightly acidic soil but will tolerate pH levels as high as 7.5. Linden trees do not withstand drought for prolonged periods and are not found in the western states of the US.

The leaves are large measuring anywhere from 3″ to 6″ in both length and width. The linden tree provides much of its own food since the leaves do not lose their mineral content as they decay. Linden tree leaves are high in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, and potassium.

Trees For Bees – The Black Locust

black locust tree

Did you know that trees provide most of the surplus nectar and pollen for bees? Or that 5 or 6 trees produce as much nectar and pollen as a whole field of wildflowers?

Most people don’t. That’s unfortunate because planting a tree, especially in an urban area, is one of the most effective things you can do to help save the bees.

The benefits of planting Black Locust for honeybees have long been recognized. Bees are drawn to the fragrance of the nectar-rich blossoms. An acre of Black Locust is said to produce 800 to 1200 pounds of honey. Moreover, the Black Locust blooms late enough in spring that the blossoms are rarely damaged by frost; thus, it is a reliable annual source for bees.

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In Europe the Black Locust tree is considered to be highly prized as an urban street specimen, because it tolerates air pollution very well. The graceful white flower racemes that hang from the branches are extremely fragrant and perfume the air for shopping pedestrians.

The aromatic Back Locust flowers begin blooming in May and are considered edible and tasty like citrus flowers. Ironically, all other parts of the Black Locust tree are poisonous and should not be planted near livestock grazing sites. The lacy leaves are airy and constantly flutter in the slightest breeze. Leaflets can grow about eighteen in number and are attached to a midrib one foot in length. At night the leaves fold up as daylight fades, and likewise, the Black Locust tree leaves will contract during rain. In the Fall the deep green leaves that are silvery green underneath, turn bright yellow, and because of their tiny size do not need raking when fallen on the ground and then disappear in the grass as a fine mulch.

The Black Locust tree is a very fast growing tree that can produce a 4 foot trunk diameter and on old trees can reach 100 feet in height. This fast growing tree characteristic will rapidly enrich poor soils, because the Black Locust tree is a legume, so that nitrogen fixing bacteria grow into root nodules loaded with nitrogen organics. The Black Locust trees are very cold hardy, native American trees that range from the North Georgia mountains to Pennsylvania and then grow Westward to Oklahoma.

Plant A Tree And Save Some Bees!

Linden Trees

Linden Trees

Did you know that trees provide most of the surplus nectar and pollen for bees?  Or that 5 or 6 trees produce as much nectar and pollen as a whole field of wildflowers?

Most people don’t.  That’s unfortunate because planting a tree, especially in an urban area, is one of the most effective things you can do to help save the bees.

What types of trees do bees like?

Some of the more common bee-beloved trees are Chestnuts, Hollies, Black Locusts, Hawthorns, Lindens (Limes in Europe), Oaks, Black Gums, Maples, Buckeyes, Mountain Ashes, Catalpas, Dogwoods, Redbuds, Hazels, Magnolias,Poplars, Sycamores, Tulip Trees and Willows.  They also love all types of fruit trees!

All of these trees are available for an amazingly reasonable price (about $6 for many) at The Arbor Day Foundation.  If you become a member, they will send you ten trees for free!

The fact that it’s winter is no excuse for inaction. It’s the best time to plant trees!!

So plant some trees and save some bees. You’ll feel great when you do!!