I stopped by the gardens of former Beacon Journal/Ohio.com Features Editor Lynne Sherwin recently to admire her roses, the ‘Louisa’ crabapple, and many other wonders. I was also struck by the importance of the street trees and the overall tree canopy of her West Akron neighborhood.

Majestic pin oaks lined the streets. So I enlisted Mike Binkley, manager of corporate mapping and institute technology development of the Davey Institute of Kent's Davey Tree Expert Co.

Using the publicly available i-Tree model of tree benefits developed by U.S. Forest Service scientists and their partners (www.itreetools.org), including Davey Tree, there were some eye-opening statistics for this Schneider Park neighborhood. Such as, of the 150.5 acres in the neighborhood, trees provided 45.9% canopy cover and the 6,097,058 gallons of stormwater management provided annually by those trees has an annual value of more than $54,000.

The 345 tons of carbon dioxide absorbed by the neighborhood trees are valued as a benefit of more than $16,000 and the carbon dioxide stored in these trees is estimated at 8,670 tons, an environmental benefit of more than $400,000.

How about air pollutants removed (particulate matter, ozone, nitrous dioxide, sulfur dioxide and others)? That's 5,870 pounds at a value of $23,227. Higher property values, lower summer air temperatures, wildlife habitat — and the dynamic aesthetic benefits of the changing beauty of trees. This is starting to add up to a real portfolio of benefits for Akron.

Let us turn to an individual tree in this neighborhood: A 46-inch diameter pin oak. And let us go to the mytree.itreetools.org website (check it out). The site poses a number of questions such as address, identification, size and condition of the tree, distance from house, age of house, and so on. The results for this tree were $75.78 for the energy savings, stormwater remediation, and other benefits. This is something you can do right now for all the trees in your yard, school, block, apartment house, church, assisted living facility, business, or other area. Treeconomics.

And then there are those roses of Lynne and her husband, Marc Bona. Two stand out from their blooms. One is the Julia Child rose, a 2006 All American rose selection which, as advertisements indicate, has “buttery bold blooms and a licorice-clove fragrance,” that Child would surely appreciate. In fact she did, selecting this rose to bear her name years earlier than the All American selection. Butter and cloves: Aaah, Julia, who said: ”The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook.”

Another shout-out flower in the Sherwin garden is the Easy Elegance Sunrise Sunset rose with its fuchsia-pink petals and ever-blooming blossoms on its shrub form. From the 20th century Cuban actress Hada Bejar: “The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”

 

Don’t fear reaper

 

When it comes to our “bone structure of the landscape” American planetrees (sycamores) and their hybrid collaboration with Oriental planetrees (London planetrees), the season will indeed be kind, though you couldn’t tell by their current look. Sycamore anthracnose is prominent this year due to cool, moist conditions during leaf expansion earlier. Do not panic, though, since planetrees readily recover from this disease. They look pretty miserable right now, especially on our more susceptible native Platanus occidentalis, but amazingly these trees shall put out a new set of leaves and right themselves in about a month from now.

The sycamore anthracnose fungus overwinters on twigs of the tree and the fungus becomes active once leaves emerge. New leaves that emerge will be less susceptible and the weather is of course less cool and … the tree shall recover. Though you may not remember this from the past, this really does happens in such growing seasons again and again. To channel another Pleurotus ostreatus (look it up) cultish song: “History shows again and again/How nature points out the folly of man …” Like fears of Godzilla, your concerns are imaginary. Though, if you must catharse, the latest version is in theaters right now.

 

Plant school

 

Join us for our next OSU Extension Secrest Arboretum workshop on June 27, titled “Annual and Perennial Herbaceous Plants." The program will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. including an outstanding lunch and snacks. We will have an extensive Flower Lineup, an Annuals and Perennials Walk (including the occasional woody perennial), a series of educational talks, and your observations, questions — and even a few answers.

OSU Extension’s herbaceous heroine Associate Professor Pam Bennett — the OSU Master Gardener Volunteer coordinator, Secrest Arboretum’s own Matt Shultzman, and I will be the teachers and learners along with all of you present. Registration is available at go.osu.edu/Chatfield and will be $40. Topics will include: new, mostly new, and old standby annual and perennial selections, herbaceous plant maintenance and key family characteristics of selected herbaceous plants, natural history of selected herbaceous plants, and a flower quiz.

From annuals to perennials, from zinnia to astilbe, flower power shall be the order of the day. We shall learn to truly see these flowers. In the 19th century words of the first baron of Avebury, John Lubbock, friend of Darwin and a broad enough thinker that he was both an esteemed banker and entomologist:

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. ... In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportsmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

Also from the 19th century, the Frenchman Victor Hugo, who we mostly know as the author of “Les Miserables” (Any students reading it this summer?) and “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” wrote: “A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in — what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” Victor Hugo’s mind also ranged widely, including his 1853 poetical political indictment of Napolean III, “Les Châtiments” (The Punishments).

“The living are those who wage battle

The living battle on, ever holding

a clear purpose in mind and spirit.”

The spirit of flowers, of the gardens, of justice. From salvia to the stars.

 

Jim Chatfield is a horticultural educator with Ohio State University Extension. If you have questions about caring for your garden, write to chatfield.1@osu.edu or call 330-466-0270. Please include your phone number if you write.