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The Truth About Trees

"Garden Talk" KSRO Radio Host Talks on Trees Aug. 16 (2016)

“Society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”

It’s a Greek proverb but it’s just as true today as it was centuries ago. So is the saying “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Well, the second best time in Sonoma County is probably more October(ish) than August(ish), as locals know. Back-To-School weeks in August and September always bring with them one last punishing wave of 100-degree temperatures.

But if you’re thinking about shade, summer is a great time plan for planting trees in October and November. That’s when deciduous trees will drop their leaves and go dormant and rains (should) come to keep the ground nice and moist so they can establish roots into the following spring.

What’s the best tree to plant in Windsor? Just about anything that grows well in the rest of Sonoma County, according to Gwen Kilcherr, Master Gardener and host of the popular “Garden Talk” show on KSRO AM radio 1350 from 9-11 a.m. Saturdays. “It’s only when we get up to Cloverdale and Geyserville where they get a lot more 100-degree temperatures than the rest of the county that we have to look at things a bit differently,” she said.

Kilcherr will present “The Truth about Trees” at the Aug. 16 meeting of the Windsor Garden Club in the community room at the Windsor Senior Center, 9231 Foxwood Drive. It’s free and open to the public; doors open and refreshments are available at 6:15 p.m. Club business begins at 6:30 p.m. and speakers begin by 6:45 p.m.

In addition to her radio show, Kilcherr is also a certified integrated pest management specialist, co-author of "The Garden Doctors’ “ column in the Press Democrat, and a garden consultant with the “Garden Sense” Master Gardener’s house call team. In her day job, she’s with Western Environmental Consultants and spends her time evaluating trees under PG&E’s high voltage power lines for hazardous conditions.

In her Aug. 16 presentation, Kilcherr will be talking about tree selection and care: how to select the right tree for available space, how to pick the healthiest trees when shopping for them at nurseries, how to plant, stake and water trees, and how to care for them as they age.

She’ll have several five-gallon trees on hand as examples and will be happy to sell them to anyone wishing to adopt them at the end of the meeting. She’ll also happily take your questions about your own trees.

Kilcherr, who lives just south of the town limits (she’s the one with a garden full of towering sunflowers bursting forth on Old Redwood Highway) says Windsor has the best of Sonoma County’s climate zones when it comes to trees. Redwood trees are happy here with enough water (think edges of lawns and near creeks) and foggy mornings to keep them green. Not quite as green as in West County, but still pretty happy.

Oaks are happy too – it’s dry enough for them to flourish like they do in East County, but not too dry. And most other trees do just fine in Windsor, she said.

Once you get them established, that is. “I’m originally from the East Coast. When I found the soil is just like concrete. It’s a totally different kind of soil,” she laughed. Twenty years later, she’s used to it.

But her favorite trees reflect her East Coast origins: Red Maple and Ginko. She does have a few trees she extremely dislikes. Come to the Aug. 16 presentation and ask her.

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