Barry Fugatt: Planting more than oak tree
BY BARRY FUGATT Garden World
Saturday, October 20, 2012
10/20/12 at 5:31 AM
I planted a small Nuttall Oak recently. And as I stepped back to admire the little guy, I thought of an old Greek proverb: "Someone's sitting in shade today because someone planted a tree long ago."
Isn't that a wonderful thought? I have three grandsons, each less than two years of age. I hope that one day all of our kids will enjoy the shade of trees planted by this generation. That's a great legacy to leave our kids.
There is a special urgency to tree planting this year. Several summers of record-breaking heat and drought have killed thousands of area trees. And thousands more are likely to die due to their weakened state.
Any discussion of great shade trees has to begin with oaks. Many oak species are tough, long-lived and tolerant of heat, cold and drought. They also are among the most beautiful and majestic of all trees.
Nuttall Oak, Quercus nuttallii, is a real favorite of mine. It's a little-known gem native to the American Southeast. I'm delighted that it's finally gaining status in the nursery trade. It has all the good qualities of its better-known cousins: Northern Red Oak, Pin Oak and Shumard Oak, while lacking their weaknesses.
Nuttall Oak quickly grows into a lovely pyramidal tree 20 to 30 feet tall, and then slowly matures into a graceful oval shape with a height and spread of 40 to 50 feet. It performs well in most soils, even clay types. Its fall foliage is bright red, better, I think, than Shumard. And I love the way it drops all of its foliage by late fall, unlike some species that shed leaves continuously through fall and winter. Nuttall Oak is a quality shade tree choice for lawn and street use in Eastern Oklahoma.
The Nuttall variety I recently planted is called "Charisma." It's the newest Nuttall variety to hit the market and it has a unique quality that will make it a top-selling shade tree in the future.
Charisma's new spring foliage emerges with a delightful lavender color that lasts until late May. It then slowly changes to bright green, the same as all Nuttall oaks. Fall foliage is bright red. The seasonal color change from to lavender to green to red makes Charisma Nuttall Oak quite the charmer.
Unfortunately, Charisma is so new that there are limited quantities available at this time in Tulsa. After a lot of calls, I found 14 five-gallon plants available at Southwood Landscape and Nursery. Encourage your favorite garden center to include Charisma Nuttall Oak in their 2013 inventory.
In the meantime, don't hesitate to plant standard Nuttall Oak. By any measure it's a great oak for this area. Shumard Oak, Willow Oak, Water Oak, Northern Red Oak, Chinquapin and White Oak also are good shade tree choices.
What are you waiting for? Sharpen the ol' shovel, make your shade tree selection and start planting.
Future generations will sit in shade because of your generosity.
Original Print Headline: Planting more than an oak tree
Barry Fugatt is director of horticulture at the Tulsa Garden Center and Linnaeus Teaching Garden. He can be reached at 746-5125 or email@example.com
Nuttall Oaks make excellent shade trees, and Shumard Oak, Willow Oak, Water Oak, Northern Red Oak, Chinquapin and White Oak also are good shade tree choices. Courtesy