Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mulberry-licious...

...well I think out mystery tree with the berries may be a Mulberry Tree of one sort or another. I have more checking to do, and will bring some leaves (and a berry if I can still find one) to a local plant nursery to see what they think; but from online checks I would say it is a Mulberry. If that is correct, then we have to await next season (late spring into early summer) for any berries. They are supposed to be delicious and quite edible. I don't know what kind of Mulberry tree it could be, there are many different species, maybe a Red Mulberry which would make it native to our area; then again maybe one of more than a dozen other types of Mulberry Tree.

While I am not sure it is a Mulberry Tree but it does have some characteristics of one. For example it has both lobed and unlobed leaves. It has a bark that fits the description I read about. It is fast growing in its early years - to that I can attest. Its flowers, as I remember, look like ones I have seen pictured for a Mulberry tree. Of course, it also produces the berries.

If that is truly what it is, then I expect a load of berries next year, and double that within about another 2 or 3 years because we have another younger one growing also. I uprooted and replanted the sapling of the younger one just last year, and it is already about 10-12 feet tall. From inches to that tall in less than two complete growing seasons. That follows suit with what I have read up on Mulberry trees, fast growing when very young, then the growth slows down markedly. Our older tree has got to be at least 5 , maybe as much as 7 to 10, years old. I used to cut it back every summer thinking it was just a bush that annoyed my neighbor because its branches overgrew her fence. Once I realized it was a tree, I became very selective about how I pruned it. It is kind of messed up now as far as how its branches twist here and there, but it sure produces a lot of berries, and offers some cool shade. I recently pruned the other one - heck they have branches sprouting out every few inches along the trunk, and I am hopeful that one will grow straighter and taller with even more berries. If they actually are Mulberry trees, I will be berry pleased indeed.

All the best,
Glenn B

The Crisp Coolness...

...of a damp morning greeted me as I swung open our side door to let out the hounds a few minutes ago. As usual Mimi, our mutt, ran along the neighbor's fence staring up into the trees. She was looking for our resident squirrels and birds. She even stopped to tinkle, all the while peering intently up into her favorite small tree, one that until a few days ago was weighed down by an abundance of medium sized blackberry like berries (anyone know what kind of a tree makes berries that looks like blackberries). It is the squirrels that make her flip out though, and thankfully there were no squirrels this morning up in the berry tree. Yes those squirrels and many local birds love those berries. I am pretty sure Mimi too has eaten her share as we were seeing evidence of seeds in her 'business'.

When it comes to squirrels, I could use the magic of the Dog Whisperer (or any other dog training magician) to calm her down, she is so intent on them that she hears no or few commands from me when they enthrall her. I don't know if they are singing some high pitched Siren's' Song to her, but about the only way to control her when a squirrel is nearby is to tether her to another tree much as Odysseus was tethered to the mast of his ship. Squirrels simply make her go bonkers and she jumps trying to climb our trees, has jumped over the neighbor's fence, has apparently tried to take flight a couple of times (I am happy she does not have even vestigial wings), and once or twice when out front ran right out into the street chasing a squirrel (no more off leash for her on the street). It is not just the squirrels though. She has already - to our knowledge caught 4 birds in mid-flight in our backyard. She is quick. She has also chewed up a prized tortoise of mine, yes the tortoise is okay but will probably never win Best In Show again, and she has obsessed over a backyard pen that now houses the tortoise and 2 bearded dragons. She is almost possessed by a desire to catch small critters, and no punishment seems to deter her from her mischief. She is so taken by them that she will even sometimes stop playing fetch with her favorite ball; and the way she gets into playing it has to be something pretty compelling to make her stop. Today though, she just watched, I guess because she too was listening to the wonderful birdsong that filled the air.

Her presence under the trees this morning did not deter the flock of mixed species of birds that also greeted us as we walked out of the house. Their symphony of chirps, whistles, and chittering filled the air like it has not for quite some time now. It was late in the day before yesterday that I filled up the bird feeders (2 of them) for the first time in at least few months. Even with our mighty oak tree gone, these tiny winged singers still find their perches among the smaller trees of our backyard and serenaded us and one another with their busy songs, that is once those seeds are back! With so many present at one time, it seemed Mimi did not have a clue as how to react, and she sat there as if mesmerized by their songs. Pepe, our mini Chihuahua, ignored it all and went about getting his morning business done. He has his priorities straight if only because he is a slave to the dog biscuit that awaits him once he gets back inside; and I suppose he figures that birds are basically for the birds although a squirrel on the ground is fair chase for him too.

Today there was a slight delay between the doggy business of the backyard and the biscuit; I had to refill the bird feeders. Funny how fast those seeds disappeared once our feathered friends figured out they were back. Mostly we get English Sparrows, but there is also a good variety of others including House Finches, Doves, Cardinals and others of whose names I have little or no idea. Every now and then, maybe twice per year that we notice, a hawk stops by for a quick lunch too - and brother he is not eating seeds. Of course there are also those rats with wings (Pigeons) and busy tailed rats (Gray Squirrels) that bring their appetites to the feast. It is not until the pigeons show up though that my wife gets upset with me that I have filled the bird feeders. I am hoping they have found other, more abundant and tastier, feeding grounds than my backyard, and that it will be a long time before they again show up here. For now though, as my brief summer morning's backyard interlude fades into the rest of the day, the bird feeders are filled and I can hear the twittering of those more desirable avian songsters as my fingers clack away on the keyboard. Life is good.

All the best,
Glenn B
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