By Sarah Schrock
Before I begin, I want to apologize for my blunders in last week’s column about the pool party. I totally blew it on the who’s who and what they do. First off, Emele Clothier sang folk songs along with Fred Cooley, not Lauralee Northcott. I am sorry to have confused these talented women in my head and in print. Second, Bob Stone mastered the brats on the grill while his wife, Susan Stone, made the incredibly detailed, ornate octopus cake. And it was Jill Scott who donated the hotdogs, her wagon and her time to cook up the dogs. I really have no excuse for these mistakes, only that I didn’t have an outside party proof my piece — live and learn.
So with no further ado, this week is the second installment of my ongoing column on the trees of Twisp.
As the dog days of August roll on, the nights get shorter and mornings more crisp, a stark contrast emerges between the brown hills against the green valley floor. Irrigated fields, lawns and gardens stay green but, most importantly, large lush trees punctuate the skyline, beckoning us to their shade.
Here in town, the forest canopy is much more diverse than its wild counterpart on the forested hillsides of the valley walls. Town trees represent a collection of specimens from around the world, intentionally grown and planted to serve a multitude of benefits that our native trees can’t always provide. Our native trees are a valuable resource on many accords; however there are few homegrown natives aptly suited for town environments.
For instance, our native cottonwoods and aspens are short-lived, have brittle branches that can break with snow and stress, and can uproot sidewalks and invade lawns making them inappropriate in tight quarters. Similarly, our majestic Ponderosa pine is slow-growing and needs a lot of space to grow a healthy crown, though it can thrive in urban environments. There are places in town for these native wonders, but typically along street fronts there are better choices for shade and safety.
Good native choices for backyard habitats are smaller trees that provide berries or attractive colors like choke cherries, river birch and Douglas maples.
Therefore, to provide adequate shade, stately statures and beauty, we see maples, birches, oaks or lindens from Europe, eastern North America and Asia that will survive in urban environments. We see ashes and locusts from the American South and Midwest, along with a few evergreens that take their origin from Europe. We also see trees once widely available as popular fads during certain periods of time in our history.
For instance, along Glover Street between Fifth and Fourth, the street is lined with silver maples (Acer saccharinum) that create an archway framing the corridor. Silver maples were over-produced in nurseries, making them cheap and popular and therefore extensively planted during the mid-century. They can be seen in many cities across the nation. Unfortunately, similar to our native cottonwoods, they have a tendency to up-heave sidewalks and throw branches in storms.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous tree in town is the Norway maple (Acer platanoides). If you have ever played Pinocchio by opening up a maple seed pod (called a samara) and sticking it to your nose, watched the helicopters spiral down through the air in the fall, or weeded your garden of baby maples, chances are it was a Norway maple. This tree is widespread for two reasons: it’s an aggressive pioneer tree able to naturally establish in almost any corner of a yard, and it is widely available from nurseries. Norway maples come in a variety of horticultural varieties, some with dark red to purple leaf colors like the “Crimson King’.” You can spot one of these on the TwispWorks campus.
As the heat continues, take a moment to appreciate the trees that temper the rays. Once the heat becomes too overwhelming in the shade, jump into the Twisp hole at the park — it’s perfect for swimming right now.
Another way to escape the heat is to head to the library’s annual summer reading program party next Thursday (Aug. 25) at 2 p.m. Kids who participated in the summer reading program will be rewarded for their time spend with a book. Or simply drop into the library, grab a top pick and find yourself the perfect shade tree to enjoy the last days of summer.