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Trees, Shrubs and Conifers: Even if it's barking, it ain't always a dog..., 5 by ViburnumValley

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In reply to: Even if it's barking, it ain't always a dog...

Forum: Trees, Shrubs and Conifers

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Photo of Even if it's barking, it ain't always a dog...
ViburnumValley wrote:
Ask, and ye shall receive...

The first three images above are of two trees I steward in Memorial Park, Louisville KY. Notice the location of the mosaic wall in the background, to determine which pic is of which tree.

I first observed these specimens in 1994, when I began working for Louisville Metro Parks as a summer intern student earning my degree in landscape architecture after a career in landscape management/horticulture. Summer is not the optimum time to notice that "this tree is not like the others" - but having the habit of close observation rather than solely gross appreciation, I realized that these trees demonstrated a significant difference from other typical park trees: the flaky exfoliating bark.

A couple looks, double-takes, and then examination of twigs/buds/leaves - and nascent puffing up seeds - led me to understand that these were indeed American Hophornbeam. As Pseudo stated, these weren't no ordinary Ostrya!

Planted in the late 1970s when the park was designed and constructed on a recent Urban Renewal demolition site, these two trees were replacements for more mundane Sugar Maple that were in the original planting design. Knowing now that this property is barely more than a skim of topsoil over construction (demolition) debris, we should be thankful for the substitution of this species - very tolerant of dry and spare soils - versus more traditional species that would have (and still do) suffer in such conditions. Now approaching 40 years on site, they demonstrate a mature open-grown form that fools most anyone asked to ID them from any distance.

I had the honor to perform a re-design for this park in the early 2000s. Path alignment and drainage needed modification, and restoration of the amphitheater feature were primary scope items. While some failing trees were sacrificed to realign the walks and provide appropriate grading space so paths wouldn't puddle, I made sure that these trees retained their place of honor and were well-protected. They have survived multiple ice storms, -20F winters, heavy snows, debilitating droughts, and typical urban park user insults. They rank high on my list of tough, durable, and yet refined trees for any but the wettest landscapes.

Here are a few more images of these two Ostrya, strutting their formidable stuff...





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