A Look at the Deciduous and Evergreen Trees at My Farm
Here in Bedford, New York we’re expecting a mix of rain and snow showers, with temperatures in the 40s. Although these are warmer than usual conditions, it is winter, and all the gardens and most of the trees are bare.
This time of year, while my outdoor grounds crew is busy pruning many of the trees around my home, it’s nice to take notice of all the tree forms and how they look without their lush foliage. These trees are deciduous. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the autumn months, while evergreen, or coniferous trees, retain their greenery through the year. Some deciduous trees hold onto their leaves longer than others. And, there is also a group of deciduous conifers, which are needle-leaved trees that actually lose their needles come fall.
Here are some photos, enjoy.
This is the great sycamore in my back hayfield – the symbol of my farm. The American sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, is a wide-canopied, deciduous tree, usually growing up to 100-feet tall, with a massive trunk and open crown of huge, crooked branches. Here, one can see those branches now that all the foliage has fallen for the season.
Fruit trees are also deciduous. All deciduous fruit trees have a period of winter dormancy, the stage between leaf drop in the fall and bud break in the spring, which protects the tree buds from freezing weather.
Another deciduous tree is the copper beech. The copper beech, Fagus sylvatica purpurea, is a large, deciduous shade tree known for its beautiful burgundy foliage that turns a lovely shade of copper in fall.
And here it is in summer when it is all leafed out with its lovely dark colored foliage.
Across from the copper beech are these rare weeping hornbeams – there are six planted at the edge of my soccer field.
The same weeping hornbeams are so vibrant and lush green in summer.
This is the hornbeam hedge along the back of the Summer House and the Winter House. The hornbeam, Carpinus, is deciduous and very fast-growing. In fact, it can grow about four to five feet per year. I always keep a close eye on all the hornbeams and keep them well groomed.
Here is a photo of it just after it was pruned last summer.
Another deciduous specimen is the linden – categorized within the Tilia genus, which includes about 30 species native to North America, Europe, and Asia.
Here is the same allée of lindens in summer. Lindens can grow from about 65 to 130 feet in height. It develops dense, pyramidal or round-shaped crowns and can live several hundred years.
And remember these gorgeous horse chestnut trees at the foot of my long Boxwood Allée? Also deciduous.
Here they are now – completely bare. The form of the branches are interesting on their own against the cloudy sky.
Some deciduous trees hold onto their leaves, such as the American beech. This tree falls between evergreen and deciduous. The leaves die, but many don’t fall when they die. Botanists call this retention of dead plant matter marcescence.
And this is the same grove in early fall when the trees are filled with greenery.
Evergreens, or conifers, are plants which have foliage that remains green and functional through the season. These tend to bear cones and have needles or scales. I have one area dedicated to evergreens here at the farm. A pinetum by definition is an arboretum of pine trees or other conifers for scientific or ornamental purposes.
I also love to plant many evergreens in the woodland. I get them as bare root seedlings, nurture them in pots until they are strong, and then transplant them to more permanent locations.
There are also deciduous conifers. These trees form cones and sprout needles like conifer trees, but they also change colors in the fall and lose their needles every year like deciduous trees. The larch is one of them.
Here it is all leafed out. This is a weeping larch, Larix decidua ‘Pendula’. It has bright green needles in spring, which turn gold before dropping in fall. This curvaceous tree is located at “the triangle” where the carriage roads leading to the Boxwood Allee, the Pin Oak Allee and the woodland, all converge.
Another example is the dawn redwood, Metasequoia. Dawn redwoods grow faster than most trees. This tree forms a natural triangular shape throughout its life.
And here they are in early autumn.
And of course the bald cypress, Taxodium distichum, another deciduous conifer. Though it’s native to swampy areas, the bald cypress is also able to withstand dry, sunny weather and is hardy in USDA climate zones 5 through 10. These trees do so well here at the farm. Here it is late last summer.
Like trees with leaves, bald cypress trees drop their needles in the fall leaving the tree – well, bald. And in spring, all the trees here will start to show off their beautiful colors once again. I hope this inspires you to appreciate the trees where you live – even in winter, when many are bare.