Thursday, April 16, 2015


I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.

Poet Joyce Kilmer is best remembered for his poem Trees whose first two lines are frequently quoted. Trees are on our minds not only because we are experiencing all the lovely spring blossoms, but also because it is almost Arbor Day, which falls on April 24. Arbor is the Latin word for tree, and the holiday celebrates caring for and planting trees, revered as the lungs of the planet. To get you in the holiday mood, there are some wonderful books on trees in the Monrovia Public Library collection.

Sunset, the magazine of the west and publisher of many books about home and garden, has the favorite standby The New Sunset Western Garden Book. This excellent illustrated guide is easy-to-use, discusses the pluses and minuses of the many trees that you might consider for your yard, and very importantly talks about water needs. Use this book for all your garden needs and take it to the nursery when selecting new trees.

Flowering Shrubs and Small Trees by Isabel Zucker and Trees and Shrubs of Southern California by John Stuart will both help you identify local trees and select appropriate trees for your garden. The Stuart book has line drawings and a geographical map that shows where the trees grow best.

In addition, trees need to be trimmed. The American Horticultural Society Pruning and Training Handbook is a terrific go-to book that gives step-by-step advice and illustrations on how to prune trees. The before and after pictures are particularly helpful.  Maybe just pruning is not on your mind, but topiary—the art of sculpting plants into shapes. Both The Art of Shaping Shrubs, Trees and Other Plants by Tatsuo Isimoto and Topiary and Ornamental Hedges by Miles Hadfield will get you started towards turning your garden into a work of art.

For those curious enough to read the entire text of Trees by Joyce Kilmer, go to the Poetry Foundation website: enjoy the full poem.

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