Growth Rings

Arbor Day is almost here!

Posted on April 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

By Susie Peterson

Come help Portland Parks & Recreation and partners (including Friends of Trees) celebrate our city’s trees and those who work so hard to plant and care for them! Highlights of the day will include: 1) Portland getting its 37th annual Tree City USA banner; 2) the Urban Forestry Commission Education and Outreach Committee awarding the Bill Naito Community Trees Award at 10:00 a.m.; and, 3) the reading of the Arbor Day Proclamation at 12:00 p.m.

There is a new theme each year for Arbor Month. This year the theme is ‘Trees Care For Us: We Care for Trees.’ Some of your favorite local tree groups will have booths to visit and you can find out how trees care for you and how you can help care for trees. They’ll be giving away several different kinds of tree stickers, as well as cool Arbor Month posters, which have fun games on the back. Plus, Garry Oak will be there in person to give big tree hugs to everyone!

Arbor Day poster side B 2014 300x193 Arbor Day is almost here!

2014 Arbor Month Poster!

When: this Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 8:30 a.m. till 2:00 p.m.
Where: Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University, South Park Blocks between SW Hall & SW Montgomery (map)

In addition to Arbor Day, feel free to attend any of the other fun Arbor Month activities planned.

See you out there!

– Susie is a Neighborhood Trees Specialist with Friends of Trees.

Shiver me Timbers, it’s ARRRRRbor Day!

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Oregon has Arbor Week, and Portland has Arbor Month including a specific Arbor Day.  But the pirates of our community have been asking, when is ARRRRRbor Day?  Well this year they took the matters into their own hands.  ARRRRRbor Day is a pirate-themed fundraiser for Friends of Trees on Saturday, April 26 at the Clinton Street Theater (2522 SE Clinton Street in Portland). All are welcome to attend! Feel free to join the Facebook ARRRRRbor Day event.

Starting at 7pm, ARRRRRbor Day features live entertainment by Dingo Dizmal and Olive Rootbeer, Toucan Sam and the Frootloops, and Ace of Ruin Piratical entertainment, followed by a showing of the Douglas Fairbanks classic “The Black Pirate.” Proceeds to benefit Friends of Trees. The event is all ages, but adult beverages will be for sale with ID. Pirate outfits encouraged. For more information, see

13786959853 d3e6754589 Shiver me Timbers, its ARRRRRbor Day!

Find your perfect fruit tree match

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm
Apple tree AmieFedora type Find your perfect fruit tree match

Saturday, April 19, 2014
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Take home bare-root stock fruit trees for a $5 suggested donation. Shade tree stock will also be available at wholesale prices. Come early for best selection! View the event on Facebook.

Dreaming of a fresh fruit harvest from your own yard? Many fruits grow well in the Pacific Northwest with enough sun, space and care. However, it’s worth taking time to choose the right fruit tree for your lifestyle to ensure that come harvest time, you’ll be saying “oh joy” instead of “oh boy.”

So… which statement best describes you?

I love fruit, but I’m pretty busy.
Choose: Fig or persimmon
In general, fruit trees are more susceptible to pests, fungus and disease than regular trees. But the fig and persimmon have few of these problems. Figs grow quickly and are very forgiving to less-than-expert pruning regimens. You can even grow a fig bush. Persimmons grow slowly, are fairly easy to maintain and put on lots of bright, orange fruits in the fall. King fig and Fuyu persimmon are good choices.

FuyuPersimmonFruit1 Find your perfect fruit tree match

Fuyu persimmon

I’ll do a little work for some jam.
Choose: Italian or Asian plum
These plum varieties usually have abundant, healthy crops in the summer, with only a few pests to worry about, though trees require regular pruning and harvesting. This semi-dwarf Italian plum can be kept to a manageable height and has large, purple fruit.

ItalianPlum Find your perfect fruit tree match

Italian plum

I’m a beginner but want a ton of fruit.
Choose: Asian pear
Asian pears produce huge crops but are less susceptible to disease than typical European pears. You’ll need a little knowledge about pruning to maintain a healthy structure so the branches can hold loads of fruit without breaking. You’ll also be harvesting a lot—but you can do it!

AsianPear Find your perfect fruit tree match

Asian pear

I make my own pie—bring it on.
Choose: Apple or European pear
Though popular, apples and pears are more challenging to grow in our area—though certainly feasible. The reason? Pests and fungus. Depending on the season, you may have to battle pests like maggots or codling moths—the proverbial worm in your apple. In our wet climate, outbreaks of scab (a fungus) can show up as brown spots on leaves and fruit.

But don’t be discouraged—if you don’t mind a worm or two, we suggest choosing a semi-dwarfing variety (12-15 feet tall and wide without pruning) that is resistant to scab, such as Akane and Liberty.

Semi dwarf apple tree Find your perfect fruit tree match

A well-pruned semi-dwarfing apple tree.

I want to grow something weird.
Choose: Paw paw.
Full of potassium, the paw paw is like the banana of North America (it’s native to the southeast). The common paw paw can be a fun addition to your garden and table, with custardy flesh that some people say tastes kind of like a cross between a banana and a mango.

pawpaw Find your perfect fruit tree match

Paw paw

Want to dig deeper? Read these four things to consider before choosing a fruit tree for your yard.

And we’ll see you at the 2014 Fruit Tree Giveaway Saturday, April 19! Check out the event on Facebook.

Four questions to ask before choosing a fruit tree

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm
Semi dwarf apple tree Four questions to ask before choosing a fruit tree

Want to dig deeper with fruit tree care? Sign up for one of the Portland Fruit Tree Project’s upcoming workshops, including one May 20.

Friends of Trees and the Portland Fruit Tree Project have a wonderful symbiosis. Friends of Trees helps people with planting, establishment and early maintenance of trees. Portland Fruit Tree Project helps people harvest, prune and otherwise care for fruit trees once established. We talked with Bob Hatton, Program Coordinator at the Portland Fruit Tree Project, about some important questions to ask before choosing a fruit tree.

How much light do I have?
“Solar access is really important,” Hatton says. To ensure a good harvest, choose a spot that can provide 6-8+ hours of sunlight during the growing season.

How much space do I have?
With no pruning, standard-sized fruit trees can get huge—and difficult to care for and harvest. Many fruits come in a dwarf root stock (8-10 feet tall and wide if unpruned) or semi-dwarf (12-15 feet) that work well for urban streets and yards.

“We really try and recommend that folks plant trees that are going to be a manageable size for them,” Hatton says.

When do I want to harvest?
If timing is important to you, check when your fruit variety will need to be harvested. Plums and many other fruits grow in the summer. You can harvest persimmons through the end of November. Apples can be harvested from June through the fall, depending on the variety. You can even plant trees with different harvest times to extend the productivity of your home orchard.

Does the fruit tree need a mate?
To bear fruit, a tree may need to cross-pollinate with another tree of its kind. But if you live in town, don’t worry about it too much, Hatton says. Most fruit trees can cross-pollinate with similar varieties nearby in someone else’s yard (honey bees can travel for miles). Exceptions include paw paws or kiwis—you should grow two in your yard to bear fruit. And if you’re not sure about your particular fruit variety, ask an expert.

“People all over the world have been growing their own fruit for a long time,” Hatton says. “It’s just about empowering yourself with the knowledge and skills to care for the tree correctly.”

Ready to find your perfect fruit tree match? Check out this post for some tips.