Category Archives: trees

A Million More

Over the next twenty years, Winnipeg’s population is set to grow to a million. An organization called Trees Winnipeg has started a project so the city will have planted an additional one million trees at the same time as its number of citizens reaches a million. A new snow sculpture at The Forks is advertising the initiative.

Seeing the tree sculpture at The Forks reminded me it had been some time since I had visited my trees so I decided to stop on my way home from The Forks and photograph each one. My regular blog readers will know that I adopted four Winnipeg trees last spring and have been recording their progress in posts throughout the year.

My lilacs are almost completely buried in snow.

The snow is definitely much deeper than the last time I visited as you can see from this picture. I’ve read lilacs are extremely hardy so all the snow shouldn’t be a problem for them.

In November when I wrote about my trees last my cottonwood still had a few stray leaves on it.

The leaves are all gone now. Look at the bare cottonwood behind me. I’ve learned that cottonwoods begin a kind of hardening process in the fall to help them survive the winter. The water inside the tree moves from its cells to spaces between the cells to make freezing of the cells less likely.

My aspen is looking just fine. During the winter aspen trees stand dormant and stop growing.

Without its leaves, my crabapple is almost camouflaged by its surroundings.

My four trees belong to a community of 3.3. million trees that are part of the Winnipeg landscape. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could another million trees to that number in the coming years?

Other posts……..

Treed by Ariel Gordon

Aspen Eyes and Apple Scab

The Edge of the Trees

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A Snowy Visit To My Trees

I thought I’d better head out and visit my four tree friends. Because of our trip, I hadn’t seen them in more than six weeks and wondered how they were faring with all the snow we’d just received.

My lilacs were just fine although they were carrying a heavy burden of snow. I read online that lilacs are pretty hardy and can withstand temperatures of -40C.

From a distance, my cottonwood looked bare………..

But when you got up closer you could see there were still some stubborn leaves clinging to the branches.

Snow was filling in the ridges in the bark making a pretty design.

My aspen has had a hard year- losing two nearby friends and in need of some pruning itself. I did read however that in winter when other deciduous trees are mostly dormant, aspens keep producing sugar for energy.

Without its leaves, you can hardly see my crabapple tree, it blends in so well with the buildings in the background. A few little ice-covered apples still remain. I read those remaining apples can provide food for hungry squirrels and birds in winter.

I am not sure I will write about my trees as often in winter as I did in the other three seasons but I plan to carry on with my plan to visit them weekly for a full year which will end at the beginning of May.

Other posts………….

It’s Not An Elm!

The Lilacs Are Blooming

Heart-Shaped Leaves, Knobbly Twigs, and A Branch Diagram


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Saying A Temporary Good-bye To My Trees

I went to visit my trees on the weekend. I will leave on an extended trip soon and so I won’t be seeing the four trees I’ve befriended again till the end of October.

I am going to miss my trees.

My dear aspen has lost two friends.

On the left, you can see there were two aspen trees that looked like they had died, standing beside my special aspen which is the one closest to my husband Dave. Now both of those dead trees are gone as you can see in the photo on the right.

The only evidence left that the trees were once there are their freshly cut stumps.

There are lots of older stumps around my aspen which tells me this aspen grove has been pruned before.

Speaking of stumps I found this one underneath my lilac bushes. There must have been a tree there at one time that was cut down and the lilacs planted all around where the tree had been.

The lilacs have definitely been pruned. I can see where all their branches have been cut off.

Something nice is that the flowers in the urns in my lilac bushes have been restored to their former beauty by the rain we’ve had.

I decided to photograph my cottonwood from four different vantage points. I was out at dusk and just after I took the first two photos all the street lights went on.

Underneath my cottonwood
Front of my cottonwood
My cottonwood from the left
My cottonwood from the right

My poor little crabapple has lost almost all its leaves. Just a few are still fluttering on the branches behind me.

I am so curious about how my trees will look a month from now when I return. I am going to miss my trees.

You can read all the posts about my trees here.

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Heart-Shaped Leaves, Knobbly Twigs, And a Branch Diagram

Remember these lovely steel bowls filled with blooming flowers that were rising out of my lilac bushes when I published my last post about the four neighborhood trees I’ve befriended?

Well sadly no one has been caring for them or watering them.

They look like this now. I guess the heat did them in before this week’s rain could help them.

However, the flower bed right beside my lilacs is looking lovely.

I had read that many lilac trees have heart-shaped leaves and mine certainly do. They are a little bit concave too so they almost look like cups.
The apple scab I wrote about last time has taken most of the leaves on my crab apple tree so it is looking pretty bare.
It does have some little tiny apples on it.

I read an article about aspens and it said that their twigs are knobbly so I took a picture of my aspen twigs and think knobbly is probably exactly the right word to describe them.

The same article said how smooth aspen bark is and I tested that out and it certainly is.

I decided to try drawing a kind of diagram of the branches on my cottonwood tree. I sat on a park bench across the street from it for a long time and this is what I came up with.

I’ll be back in another couple of weeks with a news update on my trees. You can read all the old posts about them here.

Other posts………….

Biblical Plants

The Beauty of Looking Down

Green Gold

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Aspen Eyes and Apple Scab

I went to visit my trees on the weekend. My first stop was my aspen.

Eye, nose and mouth on my aspen

Earlier I talked about how one combination of the ‘eyes’ on the bark of my aspen looked like a face profile.

This time I found another group that looked like a pair of eyeglasses on a nose.

I wondered what created these eyes and found out that they form when the tree prunes itself by dropping small branches that don’t receive enough sunlight and that results in a scar on the trunk of the tree. Each eye is unique. Aspens have varying numbers of eyes. On another visit, I should count how many my tree has in total.

We have been having such dry hot weather and from what I can find out online that’s why my cottonwood tree has started losing leaves. The base of the tree is covered with leaves.

I’ve been studying the branch structure of the cottonwood. I want to sketch it for another post.

I can see that a major branch was at one point pruned from the tree or it came off in some other way. I am pointing to the knothole that is left. I wondered if I should use the word knothole. What did it actually mean? According to Merriam Webster, it is a hole left at a place on a tree trunk where a branch has come out. Another explanation said that knots mark the spot where a branch used to be before it died and fell off the tree. So technically I am pointing to a knot not a knothole on this tree and the eyes on my aspen are actually a kind of knot too.

There are these steel bowls full of petunias and wild grasses in my lilac bushes and although my lilacs have lost their blooms the petunias are thriving.

The planters are actually quite unique and look like sentinels guarding this entryway into Stephen Juba Park.

Sadly I think my crabapple tree is sick. The leaves are all turning yellow. Apparently, this can come from a disease called Apple Scab caused by a fungus that spreads on the wind or with rain. As the disease progresses, the leaves turn yellow and can fall prematurely from the tree; usually in midsummer.

I hope my tree doesn’t have Apple Scab but we will have to wait and see. There are three crabapple trees in a row on the lane but only mine looks sick. I guess by the time I report back to you again I should know whether it has succumbed and lost its leaves.

Despite the problems some of my trees are having, I am so glad I am doing this project. I have driven by these trees so often in the ten years since we have lived here, but have never noticed all these little things about each one, or how each tree has changed in some way almost every time I go by. Recording the changes in my own trees is making me more observant of all trees and appreciating how unique and interesting they really are.

Other posts about tree…….

Tornado Art

The Le Ceiba Tree

Spending the Day with Antonio and Jose

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Checking In On My Trees

It was time to visit the four trees I am trying to keep tabs on for a whole year if I can. My crabapple was looking pretty good.

The foliage around it is lovely and green.

Some of the leaves felt really sticky and when I looked it up I read that can happen if there are aphids on the leaves but I couldn’t see any.

My cottonwood is looking simply magnificent.

Right now it is covered with these fuzzy seed pods. This happens to cottonwoods in June. The seed pods get blown off the tree and the wind helps them spread for miles.

Sadly my lilacs are all bloomed out and just a few lonely blossoms remain.

My aspen is actually looking the healthiest it’s been so far.

I took some photos of the aspen roots I could see all around the tree. Later I read about aspen roots and they are very shallow which is why we can see them sticking out of the ground. Another interesting thing I learned is that the roots of aspens can stay vital for years even though the trees they belong to are dead.

This is my sixth visit to my trees since May 4th when I started this project.

Click here to see all my posts about trees.

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Beside My Trees

As many of you know I have made friends with four trees in my neighbourhood and I am learning more about each one and recording how the trees grow and change over time. In this post, I thought I’d tell you something about an object near each of my trees.

My lilac trees are located on either side of a piece of colourful psychedelic art called Grain is King by Jordan Van Sewell.

Sheaves of grain are cut into the artwork’s body and the plaque on the sculpture’s base says, “Grain has built this town and has driven the economy of Winnipeg for many years.”

There is a plaque right beside my cottonwood tree that is actually an explanation for a statue just across the street from the tree.

The plaque near my cottonwood explains that the statue called The Exiles is of a family leaving Scotland to immigrate to Winnipeg in the late 1700s. The statue was created by Gerald Laing. Most of these new Winnipeg settlers had been chased out of their homes in Scotland and had their houses burned by rich landowners who wanted their land for their animals to graze on. A man named Lord Selkirk arranged for these homeless folks to have passage to Canada hence their name.

My aspen tree is in a little grove right in front of a building.

The building is home to National Bank Financial a company founded in 1902 that employs some 800 financial advisors across the country.

My crabapple tree is in the woonerf on John Hirsch Way. Woonerf, is a Dutch word for a living street.  A  woonerf is an urban design that changes streets from being car prioritized to being shared spaces for all kinds of transportation including pedestrians. 

I’ll do another post in ten days or so. I wonder what new things I will observe about my trees then.

Other posts…………

Grain is King

The Exiles

What is a Woonerf?

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The Lilacs Are Blooming

I had been a little worried about my lilac trees because while others were blooming mine were not. But Dave noticed a couple of days ago when he biked by them they were starting to flower and so on Sunday morning, we went back to take some photos so I could write another post about the four trees in my neighbourhood I am befriending for a year.

The lilacs aren’t only starting to look lovely they are smelling fantastic. I could have stood beside them for a long time taking in their heady scent. I did a little research and found out that the smell of lilacs is dependent on the heat which vaporizes their aromatic particles. If it is cold and damp you won’t smell lilacs. Since the weather has been very hot in Winnipeg for the last few days the lilacs are unusually fragrant. It seems people are pretty divided on whether they find the smell of lilacs beautiful or way too overwhelming and cloying.

I had wondered if my lilac tree was a special variety but when I put the blossoms into the Picture This app it just identified the tree as The Common Lilac. It was interesting to look at the flowers up close and realize that each bloom is made up of all these little four-leafed flowerets that kind of look like stars.

My aspen is really leafing out now and looking lovely.

I decided to look at the aspen leaves a little more closely. They have a pointy tip and then they round out towards their base and they have sharp pointed teeth all around their outer rim. They feel smooth and right now are a glossy bright green. Their stem is flat and thin which is why the leaves really flutter in the wind as I noticed when I made a video of them on my last visit. That fluttering is why the aspen is sometimes also called the trembling aspen.

My cottonwood had filled out even more since my last visit.

I know my cottonwood is a pretty old tree because its bark is so thick and deeply furrowed. The bark on a young cottonwood is smooth. Did you know cottonwoods can grow up to a meter a year?

My crabapple tree has lost all of it’s blossoms now

but I was delighted to see some lilacs blooming at its base.

Thanks for following along as I make friends with four trees in my neighbourhood. I’ll make another visit in about ten days or so. You can read all my posts about my four tree friends here.

As always thanks to my husband and tree photographer Dave.

Other posts……..

I’m Glad She Made A Mistake

Two Trees and a Marriage

I Don’t Want To Outlive the Trees

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It’s Not An Elm!

The leaves on my first tree are so green and plentiful now.

As my regular blog readers know I’ve adopted four trees in my neighbourhood and over the course of a year, I am going to try to get to know them as friends. This is the third post I am doing about my trees and the big news is that the tree I thought was an elm is not an elm.

This isn’t an elm tree! It’s a cottonwood!

Tree expert Ariel Gordon whose book Treed inspired my tree friends project read my last post and commented that she was sorry but the tree I’d been identifying as an American elm wasn’t an elm at all. She had a couple of guesses about what kind of tree it could be but she wasn’t exactly sure.

So I put a photo of the tree’s leaves into my Picture This app and it said the tree was an eastern cottonwood also known as a necklace poplar.

However, when I put a photo of the flowers on the tree into the app it said the tree was a western cottonwood also known as a Freemont cottonwood. So my elm is actually a cottonwood although I don’t know for sure what kind eastern or western.

My cottonwood has grown so much leafier and greener in the last couple of weeks as you can see in these comparison photos.

Also, the flowers at its base that were hiding in their leaves the last time I visited have now blossomed and are looking lovely.

My prairie crabapple has some gorgeous blossoms now but it is not blooming nearly as fully as the other three prairie crabapple trees surrounding it.

I know I shouldn’t compare trees, but it’s hard not to.

I am wondering if my crabapple tree isn’t flourishing like its neighbours because I noticed the last time I visited that it had this scar on its trunk where a branch must have broken off in another year.

I was so sad to see when I visited now that another branch had been broken off. Who would do that?

I am a little worried about my lilacs. Other lilac bushes all over the city are in full bloom and mine still don’t look like much. My husband Dave says to be patient. They will bloom yet. I hope so.

When I visited my aspen the wind was blowing the leaves and it looked really lovely to see them waving in the breeze so I made a video. You can see it here.

I will visit my trees again in about ten days and will report back to you.

You can see all three of my posts about my tree friends here.

The Tree of Life

The Trees of Tunnel Island

Wind Blessings


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Visiting My Tree Friends

Yesterday was my Grandma’s birthday. She always said one of the things she loved about her May 17th birth date was that all the trees were sure to be green and leafy by then. She was right!

It has been nearly two weeks since I last visited my four special tree friends. And oh my goodness how they have changed. Check out my first buddy the American Elm. This is what it looked like on May 4 and what it looks like now.

Two weeks ago there were just tiny buds on the elm and now it has beautiful leaves.

The other thing I am really excited about is that all around the base of the elm are these flowers just waiting to open. I am going to go back in a few days to see what they look like.

My second tree friend

Two weeks ago I wasn’t sure what kind of tree this was with its skinny trunk and reddish bark. But now that the leaves and flowers are bigger I was able to put a photo of it into this cool app called Picture This which has a data base of 17,000 trees and plants. The app scanned my photo and identified the tree as a prairie crabapple.

My official photographer getting snaps of the lilacs

The changes in my lilac bush friends aren’t easy to see.

You have to go up pretty close to discover that there are all kinds of buds on the branches getting ready to bloom and there seem to be kind of spidery webs on them in places.

I have left my dear aspen for last because now that the leaves are starting to sprout it is clear the little aspen grove where my tree lives is in some trouble.

There is one healthy aspen to the far left, two pretty much leafless bare aspen in the middle and then mine which has some leafy branches but lots of bare ones too.I did a little reading and found out aspens are prone to leaf blight which can cause defoliation. Not sure if that is what is happening.

Dave thought I should pick another tree but I don’t think that would fair. I figured I should stay the course with the trees I originally chose and be faithful to them.

I got a little side tracked last week with my book coming out for sale unexpectedly but I promise I won’t wait as long before my next official tree visit.

Other posts…………

A Pool of Possibilities in Our Own Backyard


A Musical Walk in a Bamboo Forest

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