Trees of My Landscape -and other trees I love

Ilona Erwin

Trees are an incredibly important part of a landscape in the part of the world where I live- as they are in so many. They are one of the first things I notice when traveling to a new region. “What new types of trees are there, and which type predominate in the scenes around me?”

Most parts of the Ohio territory were originally covered in woodland, even though my little spot was a prairie remnant in the struggle between the great forests of the east and the Great Plains of the mid continental lands. those lands were largely felled and turned to productive farmland, but parks are preserving stands of forest and woodland, now.

Trees serve the landscape in so many ways that we find useful, their shade, their ability to shelter and break the force of winds, the food they often offer, but it is their beauty and variety that catches our hearts and inspires poetry from our souls.

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Deciduous Trees

As I grew up some of the trees of the neighborhood became special to me, harbored by my mother‘s love and attention to learning to identify them.
Trees of the old neighborhood:

  • Sugar maple
  • Silver and red maple
  • Norway maple
  • White and red mulberries
  • White and red oaks
  • Sycamores
  • Sweet Gum
  • Osage Orange
  • Staghorn sumac
  • Walnut
  • Ohio Buckeye
  • Honey Locust
  • Hawthorn
  • Green and White Ash
  • Willows

Those are trees common to all parts of Ohio, and some of them were on my rural property, mostly the silver maple and red mulberry, although there were a few very young Burr oaks which grew up around the fallen trunk of their gigantic progenitor. Unfortunately all the large Burr oaks of this property were felled by the previous owners. The trunk of the giant one was too large to either cut up or burn and was left to shelter a few of its acorns and leave me with some very young trees. I further planted one I purchased, which shall come of decent size, in -oh I don’t know- fifty more years? I shall be long buried by that time. Some trees we plant for future generations.

Trees of the rural parts of Ohio to the west are similar to the central- if on woodland ground, but here on prairie ground the elements were not so kind to trees. Burr oaks and hickories are found here in savannah-like stands called “Oak openings”. People of the area planted many silver maples, and there are tangles of Hawthorns in certain vestiges too wet for farming. White oaks will grow here, and tulip trees.

Trees on my property:

  • Burr oak
  • Red oak
  • Silver and Red maple
  • Norway maple
  • Sycamore
  • Green Ash
  • Apple, Cherry, Peach, Pear
  • Red mulberry
  • Willow
  • Bald Cypress

I planted many more kinds, but found that either the cold or the late summer droughts dispatched them quickly. Chinese chestnuts were felled by a particularly cold winter, tamarack, hickory, tulip, and some others had the misfortune to be planted in a particularly drought plagued season. But the others listed had better beginnings and are all thriving, now. Maples, with their prolific seeding capabilities, are always sprouting and needing to be controlled.

My Ornamental Trees

I have concentrated on planting the ornamental size trees that were often lusted over in catalogs, read about in my garden books, or admired in arboretums. Always trying to shoehorn in yet another tree, it seems. I love them all, and have some of them profiled as favorites on the pages here.

  • Fringe
  • Redbud
  • Japanese maple
  • Crabapple: Prairiefire, Snowdrift, weeping Red Jade
  • Tamarisk
  • Amelanchier, laevis and canadensis
  • Dogwood, florida and kousa
  • Magnolia, stellata and ‘Jane’
  • Contorted hazel avellena

Evergreen trees

In some ways I find large evergreen trees to be awkward and anachronistic, unnatural as they are in a flat prairie environment. Yet, I have planted many to ward off merciless winds, to give interest to the yard throughout our long cold season, and to give shelter to not only my plantings and house, but nature’s creatures. The trees found here when I arrived were two arborvitae larger than any I had seen before, and a lopped off Norway spruce, impossibly close to the house, but pruned by tornadic powered winds long ago (or so I was told by a visiting former inhabitant of the homestead).

After research, I found Norway Spruce is considered one of the most successful trees in our area. I planted more, and pines, as well. Far from the house, this time.

Evergreen trees I grow:

  • Norway spruce
  • White spruce
  • Colorado spruces
  • Alberta spruce
  • Red Pine
  • Scots Pine
  • Hinoki cypress
  • Boulevard cypress
  • Mugo Pine

Some of those are shrub size, but they are officially “trees”.
A descriptive post I wrote about a selection of trees in my landscape several years ago, “Trees that I Grow“, if you would like to read it.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.