Plent a beautiful oak tree

By Carol Nelson VCE Southside Master Gardener Spring is finally here – which means the annual Master Gardener Plant Sale is coming soon. The VCE Southside Master Gardener Association will hold the sale on Saturday, May 4, 7:30 am to noon in the Halifax Library parking lot on S. Main St. As always, we will have a wide variety of plants at good prices. There will be annuals, perennials, shrubs and a selection of young trees to enhance your spring landscape. Saplings such as red and white oak and redbud may be available. Oak trees are particularly useful trees for reforestation, as well as for erosion control and protection of the watershed.
A beautiful oak like this one can provide summer shade, acorns for wildlife and nesting sites for birds. Visit the Southside Master Gardener Plant Sale on May 4th from 7:30 to noon and see the beautiful trees and other kinds of plants that you can bring home. Red oaks (Quercus rubra) grow into hardy shade specimens. They can be identified by their rough, dark bark and pointed leaf edges. White oaks (Quercus alba), on the other hand, have greyish bark and leaves with rounded lobes. The first consideration in bringing an oak sapling home is where to plant it. Site selection is critical to allow the young tree to spread as it grows without competition from other vegetation. Red and white oaks are well adapted to southern Piedmont soils. They are tolerant of wet summers and dry winters but should be given a site with good drainage. After clearing the planting site of debris and grass, dig a hole that is the same depth as the root ball and at least twice as wide. If you have other oak trees on your property, take a big scoop of soil from under one of these trees to mix in with the soil you are returning to the hole. This will give your new tree a good start from beneficial fungus. A light dressing of organic mulch such as oak leaves can be spread, but be sure that the tree collar is uncovered above the soil line. Keep the new planting moist if there is no rainfall. Oaks put out dense, spreading roots that anchor them for long, stable lives. After the young tree has grown a dozen feet or so, plantings of shallow-rooted species such as coral bells or creeping sage can be added underneath, leaving open a ring of 6 – 10 feet around the trunk. Shade on a summer day, wood for so many uses, acorns for scores of animal species, protection under big leaves for bird nests and overwintering insects – oaks have something for everyone. There’s still time to donate plants for the sale. Master Gardeners will be out in the community through the end of April to dig up donations. Please call 434 830-3383 or 434 476-2147 Ext. 3383 to leave your name, phone number and address. See you at the Plant Sale!