Dying street trees

A declining urban forest

It is that time of year when our urban forest seems to be lush, vibrant, and green.  Trees have finished leafing out, many have flowered and, with recent heavy rains, many are growing well.  To the casual observer, the urban forest looks like it is thriving.  People are planting trees all over town and nurseries are […]

The second flush of growth

We think of summer as the “growing season” and we are used to our garden plants growing all summer. For most trees, though, growth takes place mostly in the early spring. Most trees in temperate regions produce a single flush of growth – the bud opens, leaves that were formed the previous year expand to […]

Lightning struck tree

Death of an Oak

This beautiful old oak tree was struck by lightning last September. Within 2 days, it had completely wilted and showed no signs of life. Sudden death due to lightning is uncommon in trees, especially after the end of the growing season. Several experts recommended leaving the tree until spring to see if it showed any […]

The green terror emerges

The emerald ash borer, a shiny green beetle, is emerging from ash trees all over the eastern US and Canada.  The beautiful little beetle, part of a group called “metallic wood boring beetle” was introduced in packing material from China around 1990.  Carried throughout the region by people moving firewood, the beetle threatens to eliminate white, […]

Holly leaf

A Question of Timing

Leaf exchange in holly We know that trees usually lose their leaves in autumn, which is why we sometimes call the season fall. A few trees do things differently, though. One of those is American holly, Ilex opaca. Holly is a tree that we usually call evergreen because it stays green year-round. But if you […]

Norway Spruce

How old is Old Tjikko?

Old Tjikko is one of the internet’s favorite trees. A Norway spruce growing near the treeline in Sweden, it is said to be the oldest tree in the world at 9,558 years. Over 26,000 web pages tell us about Old Tjikko, including the usually reliable National Geographic. As is common for such stories on the internet, […]

Field Course – Airdrie Stud

Venerable Trees, Inc. offers frequent Field Courses to introduce people to the amazing woodland pasture ecosystem of the Bluegrass and Nashville Basin.  Recently, we were able to visit the amazing Airdrie Stud Farm at the gracious invitation of Mrs. Elizabeth Jones, the Owner. Airdrie Stud is one of the premier horse farms in the Bluegrass. […]

flowering dogwood inflorescence

When is a flower not a flower?

Many trees are full of showy flowers at this time of year. A close look at these flowers can be quite rewarding. Flowering dogwood is one of our most popular flowering trees, but those beautiful white blossoms hide a secret. Take a close look at a dogwood tree and you will see that the showy […]

Street Lights and Tree Growth

Urban trees live with all kinds of stresses that their forest cousins do not – road salt, soil compaction, lawn mower strikes. They also live in a different light environment, one in which it is never completely dark.  Spend the night deep in the woods and the only light you will see is from the […]

Great Trees of Jessamine County

  Jessamine County is one of the fastest-growing counties in Kentucky. A bedroom community for Lexington, it is also increasingly a center for business and manufacturing. In spite of this growth, much of Jessamine County retains its rural flavor. Some of the finest woodland pastures in the Bluegrass can be found in northern Jessamine County. […]

Bourbon County Field Course

Saturday, February 27, was a beautiful day to spend with friends old and new exploring the woodland pastures of Bourbon County. We had 23 guests who had lots of great questions and observations.  Special thanks to Jim and Kellye Pikul for their hospitality and enthusiasm. A special thanks to Jim for helping with navigation and […]

Old chinkapin oak

The Wolf Trees of Nashville

When you hike through the woods in Nashville, you don’t expect to encounter wolves. If you keep your eyes open, though, you may see some wolf trees. Foresters used the term ‘wolf tree’ to indicate a very large tree with a broad crown and a short main stem.  These trees were considered wolves because they […]

Old oak tree

How Old is that Tree?

Everyone wants to know how old a particular tree might be. We will discuss this complicated and important subject in two stories. This month we will talk about unitary trees, and next month we will tackle the complex problem of aging clonal trees.   A unitary tree is like a person – a single, integrated organism. […]

Bur oak, 72" diameter, with Jim Pikull

Young Woodland Pastures

Those who have read my book or heard my presentations know that one of our major concerns about the future of our rare and ancient woodland pastures is the failure of trees to reproduce. With trees succumbing to age, lightning and poor management, the population of ancient trees is declining. While we are constantly on […]

Butternut twok

A Winter Tree Walk at Lower Howard’s Creek – Postponed

Postponed: Due to an injury, we are temporarily unable to offer Field Courses. We will reschedule courses as soon as possible. On Saturday, January 23, from 9am to 1pm,  Venerable Trees and the Lower Howard’s Creek Nature Preserve are offering a winter tree walk at the Preserve in Clark County.  This will be a hike […]

Woodland Pastures of Pisgah

Saturday, December 12, 9am to noon. Chandler Farm, Pisgah Pike, Woodford County. The Pisgah neighborhood of Woodford County, Kentucky, has some of the finest woodland pastures in existence.  Students in this course will learn to identify venerable tree species; discuss the biology of very old trees, including the role of wood decay; and examine opportunities for […]

The Conservation Work of Venerable Trees

Venerable Trees, Inc., is focusing our efforts on a few high-priority geographic areas and four high-priority tasks: Woodford County with the greatest extent of original woodland pastures; Bourbon County with several areas where woodland pasture species are regenerating; Jessamine County with woodland pastures threatened by development; See more about each county on our Counties page. We hope […]

Clark County Wood Pastures

Woodland Pastures of Clark County

Clark County Kentucky is in the Inner and Outer Bluegrass (map). The Outer Bluegrass farms are on steeper hills than in the Inner Bluegrass and are primarily cattle farms. There are extensive and thriving woodland pastures on many of these farms. However, there is little natural reproduction of the ancient trees. The woodland pastures of Clark […]

Persimmons

How to make beer in 1779

Imagine that you are a settler in the Bluegrass in 1779, the year Lexington was established.  There is no shortage of game, and wild plants. But what do you do if you want a good beer? West Sixth Brewing was not open yet, so what was the thirsty settler to do?  You could make your […]

Bur oak leaves

A Deep Green Autumn

A deep green autumn is rare in Kentucky. By this time of year, our trees usually look forlorn and bedraggled. Dry summers, high temperatures, insects and diseases all take their toll.  Not in 2015, though. Our frequent rainfall and cool temperatures have allowed many trees to maintain lush green leaves and to continue growing. Some […]

Quercus sumatrana in Sumatra

How many trees species?

When I worked in Borneo, I was fascinated by the immense diversity of trees in the jungles where I worked, even though I could only identify a few species. I did not even know how many different trees I was seeing. They look so much alike, with some exceptions, that I could walk by a […]

The Great Flush of 2015

Have you seen the Great Flush of 2015?  In Central Kentucky,  trees are growing very fast right now, producing new growth that is noticeable for its pale green or yellow colors.  Late flushes are complicated responses to changes in soil moisture. This is the first of several stories about the Great Flush of 2015, but […]

Unsafe tree work in our parks

While walking through Kirklevington Park, I saw two groups of Lexington city workers doing their jobs. On one side of the street, a group of solid waste workers were collecting trash. They were wearing high-visibility safety vests, helmets and work boots. On the other side of the street, several Parks & Recreation employees were cutting […]

American sycamore leaves

American Sycamore: A Crown Fit for a King

Just north of the charming downtown district of Lebanon, OH, an area with well-known buildings and historical markers spanning over two centuries, a different kind of historical marker recently caught my eye. In the expansive front lawn of an elementary school building, I beheld two massive American sycamores towering over the manicured lawn. As any […]