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In this episode, garden travel tour expert Marty Wingate discusses the appeal and unique benefits of touring gardens abroad in small groups. Next Joe explains why tree topping is so harmful to their longevity and Dr. Stephen Kress is back to share information on a new high-tech gadget any backyard bird lover will want to have. Finally, Joe answers a listener’s question on why we’re seeing less and less gardening shows on TV these days.
005 Show notes – Growing a Greener World Podcast with Joe Lamp’l
Hi everybody, it’s Joe Lamp’l and welcome to Growing a Greener World. This is a show for people who love to garden and spend time outdoors, and who really care about environmental stewardship.
This week we chat with Marty Wingate, author, horticulturist and leader of international garden tours. Marty’s tours consistently open doors to some of the top gardens and gardeners in the world.
Next we’ll talk about why tree topping is one of the biggest mistakes we can make in our landscapes. In spite of volumes of professional advice against it, tree topping continues unabated. Today we address why not to top your trees. We also answer a listener’s question that’s on a lot of people’s minds these days and right down my strike zone to answer. Why does it seem like there are less gardening shows than ever on TV these days?
If you have a comment, contact us anytime! Our phone line is always open. The number is 206.337.0375, or email us at email@example.com
If you’re like me right now, you’re already sick of the cold wet weather and find yourself longing for a destination far away, where it’s warm and sunny and beautiful. Perhaps a garden tour abroad might be just the ticket for you. Well today, we’ve got just what the doctor ordered, at least to get you pointed in the right direction. Marty Wingate is a Seattle-based writer and speaker about gardens and travel. She is the author of three books, writes for national magazines and if that didn’t keep her busy enough, she leads garden tours to England, Scotland, Ireland, and North American destinations.
Interview with Marty (not transcribed)
Garden tour leader Marty Wingate will soon begin packing her bags for Her Gardens of England tour next May. To find out more about Marty and her tours, visit her website at martywingate.com.
Tree Topping; what you don’t know is killing your trees
For me, this time of year is a harsh reminder of one of the biggest mistakes we can make in our landscapes. Once the leaves fall from the trees, you can’t help but notice them. I’m referring to those trees that have been sheared of their branches at the hand of a chainsaw operator. The most common term applied to this destructive practice is “tree topping”. According to tree care professionals, topping is considered the most harmful tree pruning practice known. In fact, it’s regarded as such a serious matter, one nonprofit organization; Plant Amnesty places its major efforts at raising public awareness of these “Crimes Against Nature” committed in our own backyards.
Yet despite more than 20 years of spoken and written information by countless experts, it remains a common practice. According to The International Society of Arboriculture, the most common reason given for topping is to reduce the size of a tree, either because it has become too large for the property or a perception that it may pose a hazard. Ironically, topping is not a viable solution to reducing size or hazard. Here’s why:
First, Topping Stresses Trees. When a tree is topped, up to 100% of the leaf bearing crown is removed. Since leaves are the food source for any tree, the absence of this food supply can temporarily starve the tree. As a defensive action, the starving tree responds by rapidly sending out multiple shoots from latent buds below each cut. This action is the tree’s survival mechanism to put out a new flush of leaves as soon as possible. But if the tree doesn’t have sufficient stored energy reserves to respond in this way, it will seriously harm the tree, even leading to its premature demise.
Next, Topping Does Not Control Size. As new shoots grow to desperately replace their food-making factory, they do so rapidly, sending up numerous ‘water sprouts’. In some species these new shoots can grow up to 20 feet in one year. Trees will grow back rapidly and they don’t slow until they reach about their original size. It only takes up to a few years for that to happen.
Third, Topping Does Not Make Trees Safer. The new growth that rapidly ascends from latent buds just below each cut is only anchored in the outermost layers of the parent branch. These weak attachments will never have the structural integrity of the original branch and can break off easily, even years later when they are large and heavy. When proper pruning cuts are made (just beyond a branch collar at the branch’s point of attachment), healthy trees are genetically equipped to close the wound. Improper cuts from stubs or topping don’t heal as readily and may not be able to close. The exposed wood creates decay, entry points and pathways for pests, diseases and destructive organisms to move into and through the branches.
And forth, Topping is Expensive. Recall that as a tree is topped, it rapidly grows back, although with thinner, weaker branching. Topping to reduce size is a vicious cycle. Each cut sprouts multiple new branches and the conditions become exponentially problematic with each cycle. Eventually, when the tree dies because of the effects of the cumulative stress and damage, even more money will likely be spent to remove it.
So what’s the best alternative? When the occasion arises and it does becomes necessary to modify the height or spread of a tree, consult or hire a professional arborist. An arborist will determine the type of pruning that’s necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance and safety of your trees. Certified or professional arborists won’t use tree-damaging climbing spikes unless they are removing the tree completely, they don’t list topping as a service in their yellow pages ad and they’ll never suggest it to you as a solution, because it’s not!
For more on this story and a printable version of this article, it’s on the website, at joegardener.com.
If you heard last week’s show, you listened to a great interview with Dr. Stephen Kress, VP for Bird Conservation for the National Audubon Society, author and lifetime passionate bird watcher. We covered so much then, that we didn’t have a chance to talk about one of the latest inventions he’s involved with. Its call BirdCam. I have one and I enjoy it so much that I asked Dr. Kress back to tell us just a little bit more about this exciting innovation for backyard birders, just in time for the holidays…
Interview (not transcribed)
You can see the BirdCam in action and learn more by checking out their website at wingscapes.com.
Keeping the “G” in HGTV – Why that’s not so EZ
If you’re a fan of garden television shows, perhaps you too have noticed the waning number of garden related programs on the air these days. This is a topic very near and dear to my heart since a good bit of my time each year is spent in my role as host of gardening shows. In the process, I’ve gained a new perspective on what goes on behind the scenes in determining the type of programming that ultimately hits the airwaves. We often fail to realize, network television production is a for-profit business. And like any other, that “P” word drives many of the decisions that are made. In this case, it’s what to air and what not to air, driven in large part by advertisers and the audience they are trying to target. As a businessman, I get that.
According to the people that keep up with these sort of statistics, real gardening shows just aren’t attracting as many impressionable generation X and Y and I.M. viewers as the networks and advertisers would like. Makeover shows on the other hand, crowd TV time these days because they’re nailing the strike zone for advertisers. They have a dream, multi-generational viewing audience, and unlimited appeal to companies wanting to showcase a plethora of products. Which leads me back to my point of gardening television as it relates to advertisers. Think about the relatively small pool of businesses that see gardeners as their sweet spot, target audience.
For example, take scenario number one. You’re the media buyer for Big Box Store with instructions to spend some of that money at HGTV for commercial time. Big Box wants their ads on the shows that their target audience is watching. It’s a simple matter at this point of picking the most appropriate fit; makeover or gardening?
Now, assume you’re still the buyer and your target audience is still the same. But now, the shows they’re watching are on The Learning Channel. So, are you buying time at TLC or HGTV?
Lastly, put your shoe on the other foot. Assume you’re the executive at the network who is losing ad revenue because you’re not airing the content that the advertisers want. What do you do? The obvious answer; deliver the content the advertisers want of course; makeover or gardening?
Notice in all of this media buying / network programming speak I speak of; nowhere is the viewer mentioned. An oversight? I think not. Indeed, the viewer has some say. If the program wasn’t appealing, no matter what the genre, it wouldn’t be on the air for long. Great programming is still the key to getting airtime, but advertising dollars are what pays the bills, keeps the lights on and ultimately drives the show’s longevity. Programming directors must consider both sides, but in the end, if you’re a “for profit” network, which show are you going to air; makeover or gardening?
So is there an answer for getting more G in HGTV? Well I think so. Your voice, and the power of your wallet matters; to the network and to the sponsors. They should be hearing from us too. We all need to let them know that gardening is alive and well and so is the audience of shows about this great American pastime.
Well, that’s it for today. This show was produced by The joe gardener® Media Network. You can order a copy of my latest book, The Green Gardener’s Guide. I will personally inscribe it for you! And don’t forget to check out my blog; Compost Confidential. If you have a comment, call us anytime. That number is 206.337.0375 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And until next time consider this from Alexander Smith:
A man does not plant a tree for himself; he plants it for posterity.
Thanks for listening! This is Joe Lamp’l and I’ll see you back here next week for more Growing a Greener World.