Field of Science

Woody weeds - the bane of shade gardens

The biggest problem with shade gardens are the tree seedlings, woody weeds.  Red bud are the worst  because their roots go so deep so soon.  A six inch seedling can be impossible to pull by hand with roots somewhere down in the Carboniferous.  Sugar maple seeds like only a truly mammoth tree can produce are a somewhat different type of problem; they're easy enough to pull but at a density of a couple of dozen per square foot it's a major chore. Same goes for have a couple of dozen red bud trees; pretty and pretty prolific.  Hackberry and cherry are concentrated under roost trees where their bird dispersers leave the seeds.  When very young hackberry are easy enough, but give them enough of a start and they have a deep root too.  The weed wrench only helps when the seedlings are big enough and you don't want them to grow that long.  Even the kitchen garden is not immune and the maple seedling weeds are so thick you have to look close to find smaller garden plants.  And the squirrels just couldn't get much fatter, and no, more squirrels is not any sort of solution.  Between us we've clear cut a forests of trees, just at a seedling stage.  Whew! 


Anonymous said...

Here in Blighty I get oak and ash saplings. The latter are everywhere, and provide me with a bit of a dilemma. A couple of years ago I'd just pull and dump them (they are very tenacious), but now with Chalara fraxinea looking to become rife, I'm wondering if I should save them (or if that's a bit pointless).


The Phytophactor said...

Save seedlings in case your tree die? Doesn't sound practical. If your adult trees dieback then you would be saving the offspring of susceptable trees. You will have to hope that some resistant individuals show up somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Yes, though I was also thinking if these ones turned out to resistant - there's no signs as of yet, of the disease - it might be good to have several, several year-old sapplings in pots. But yeah, as they're most likely to be susceptible it's probably pointless keeping them.

They're not our adult trees (only have hawthorn, blackthorn, dogwood, spinney, etc. in the garden), but in the local woods.

There are some trials going on in the East where they've planted masses of different ash by infected woods to see if any are resistant - and I think they've sequenced the DNA of a resistant tree from Denmark.