Posted by jathton
(Oklahoma City, OK - Zone 7a) on Nov 21, 2019 10:03 PM concerning plant:
Throughout my career I called myself a garden designer, But when I joined the staff of a terrific locally owned nursery in the 1990's I also became a "plant salesman." I became responsible for helping customers select as little as one new plant for their home landscape… and selling a tree to a customer became a special treat.
I say that because most tree customers were homeowners who were going to live in their house for 5-7 years before selling and moving on. Their biggest motivation when tree shopping was to add a tree or a few trees to the grounds around that home… in the hope that the trees they planted would add dollars to the re-sale value of their home.
A small percentage of those customers came into the nursery knowing what they wanted. Their tree needed to be attractively shaped and capable of rapid growth. They were looking for Silver Maples and Sycamores and Hackberries and Thornless Honeylocust. Bradford Pears had tremendous appeal because of their wonderfully balanced shape when young. Some of them even wanted Cottonwoods and Mimosas. In short, they had the names of fast growing trees down cold.
It very quickly became a mission of mine to steer these customers away from what I called "trash trees" [my opinion] and toward trees that had real quality.
One of the first trees I always pointed them toward was the Northern Red Oak [Quercus rubra.]
I described this tree as "majestic" and "noble" and "tremendously long lived"… that there were innumerable, beautiful Red Oaks in Oklahoma City that had been planted shortly after the city was formed in 1889. I told them these trees developed impressively thick trunks and stout branches that grew at right angles to the trunk… eventually forming full, rounded crowns. They learned, much to their surprise, a properly cared for Red Oak could grow to 16-20 feet in ten years. They found out Red Oaks were tolerant of many soil conditions, as long as the soil was well-drained. They discovered the leaves and the acorns contained tannic acid which helps to guard them from fungus and insects. They learned the beautifully lobed five to ten inch long leaves are dark green and smooth, sometimes shining above… and they turn rich shades of red in fall… in a city that has been overwhelmed by trees with yellow autumn color.
It has been twenty two years since I was a "tree salesman" associated with that nursery. These days I can drive through several neighborhoods in Oklahoma City and see large numbers of stout, beautifully shaped semi-mature Northern Red Oaks shading front lawns and streets and peeking over the roofs of homes… Red Oaks I sold to customers who came to the nursery looking for a Silver Maple. I'll always love Northern Red Oaks for their great character, their stature in a lawn setting, their beautiful fall color and their longevity.
Incidentally, the largest Northern Red Oak in America is 131 feet tall and has a spread of 118 feet. It lives in Washington County, VA.