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Saturday, June 10, 2017


Saturday, 8:30 AM.  67 degrees F at the ferry dock, 67 on the back porch.  Wind SW calm to light with moderate gusts.  The sky is partly cloudy after rain showers early this morning.  The humidity is 87%, the barometer 29.43" and still falling.  Today will be warm, with highs in the 80's; then cooling some tomorrow, with rain.  Next week there will be very unsettled weather conditions.
   Mountain ash, small trees related to the apple tribe of the Rose Family,  are coming into bloom.  My recorded blooming dates are: 5/31/15; 6/16/14; 6/06/08.
   The most common mountain ash species, both in landscapes and escaped into the woods here, is the European mountain ash, Sorbus aucuparia. The American mountain ash, S. americana, is native to the far northern boreal forest, which we have remnants of here. It is more shrub-like. It may be found close to the lake, maybe on the islands, and more likely in the Upper Peninsula. These trees are called “ash” because of their compound leaves, but they are not related to the Fraxinus genus. There is also an Asian species and a few horticultural varieties, notably ‘Decora’, found in the nursery trade. All are very decorative in bloom and fruit, the European with orange berries, the American with red. They all have good, but not spectacular, fall color. The European is more tolerant of landscape conditions, so is more often planted, but S. americana certainly has its place. They can be hard to tell apart, especially when young, but the American mountain ash has sticky dormant buds, the European has dry, woolly buds and blunt-tipped leaflets. Birds love the berries of all of them.
   These are not long-lived trees, perhaps twenty years, so should be used as accents in the landscape, not as anchors. They have some other problems, including fire-blight, and are prone to trunk damage by sapsuckers and yellow-shafted flickers, but all-in-all these are wonderful trees and shrubs, just don’t expect a long and trouble-free association with them. Think of them as you would a high-school sweetheart; fun and memorable, but probably not a life-long companion.

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