Question: Have you split the persimmon seed to determine what kind of winter we will have?
Answer: As many of my readers know, I have an affinity for persimmon trees. I can spot them along roadsides, deep in the woods, and lone survivors in the urban landscape regardless of whether they are in fruit or in their winter nakedness. It is an ancient North American tree species that was around 55 million years ago when horses were small and short legged. Because its wood is so hard, durable, smooth, and non-shrinking, it was a favorite for making shuttles in textile mills, billiard cues, golf clubs, and flooring. However, in today's world our connection to the persimmon tree is for pudding and bread made from its nutritious fruit. Another way to reconnect with this treasure tree is to uncover its ability to predict winter weather. Deep inside the seed of the persimmon is the cotyledon or the primary leaf that emerges soon after germination. The shape of the cotyledon is an indication of what our winter weather will be. A spoon shaped outline predicts you will be shoveling snow this winter. A fork shape indicates a mild winter while the shape of kitchen knife means cutting frigid winds. This year the persimmon tree revealed a spoon. Although I have seen other shapes in years past, the spoon seems to be the norm for several years. I will be checking the woolly worm and the Almanac for further validation.
Question: To my amazement, my neighbor has a hedge of azaleas in full bloom. Is this a fluke of nature?
Answer: No, it is the Encore azalea. This azalea species has become very popular due to its ability to bloom twice in a year. Along with its traditional spring flowering, these azaleas are able to produce blooms for the fall. It is an oddity and a definitely a stand out in the fall landscape. Encores are available in most garden centers and plant nurseries. The ability to flower twice is somewhat of a mystery to me. This requires further investigation or insight from one of my more learned readers. Believe it or not, my mind is still filled with lots of unanswered questions.
Question: I had my lawn reseeded before Hurricane Florence and the grass germinated soon thereafter. However, in the past few weeks a majority of the new grass has wilted and died. What happened and should I reseed again?
Answer: We have experienced a very unusual weather pattern of 85-90 degree days, high nightly temperatures, and high dew points well into early October. These weather conditions subjected newly germinated grass to heat, drying, and brown patch disease. In a normal September our nightly temperatures are below 65 degrees. As a result brown patch disease is minimized. The combination of all these weather factors has killed a lot of new grass especially in full sun. Each lawn needs to be evaluated immediately for the possibility of reseeding now. In most cases it is not a total loss.
Question: All these hurricanes are making me nervous about my trees and should I have them pruned or topped. Is this a good time to have that done?
Answer: Recent hurricanes and newscasts showcasing downed trees should prompt us all to take a closer look at the trees around our homes and other structures. With that said, do not get carried away with unwarranted pruning especially the improper practice called topping. You do not have to drive far to see large trees that have been topped and the results. Those results include death, dieback, and just plain ugliness. Topping is widely condemned by professionals for all of those reasons and more. It is prudent to have large shade trees examined for dead and broken limbs, cracks, and evidence of decay. Removal of large dead limbs should be a priority since they will fall and damage whats below. There are many pruning practices other than topping to reduce storm damage. They include not only dead limb removal, but thinning, crown reduction, removal of limbs over structures, and up-lifting. Winter time is good time to prune trees or during the summer months. Dead limbs and cracked limbs can be removed year round. Do not fall victim to unsolicited advice or a sense of urgency from tree services canvassing your neighborhood.
HAZARDOUS WASTE DISPOSAL DAY
Today is the day you can dispose of household waste including paint and pesticides at Holly Hill Mall in Burlington from 8 am until noon. It is free and only happens twice a year. Clean out that garage!
Rett Davis is retired Alamance County Extension Director and Certified Arborist. You can email your questions to him at Rett_Davis@ncsu.edu