Oaks: Holm Oak - keep or not?

Discussion in 'Fagaceae (beeches, oaks, etc.)' started by Bill, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. Bill

    Bill Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    I was given a Holm Oak, Quercus ilex (unaccountably absent from Dirr's otherwise invaluable DVD on Woodty Landscape Plants) a few years ago, and planted it in the garden.

    It began to get larger (c. 5 m.) and shaded some rhodo plantings and so when it became bent over by an unusual (for Vancouver) snowfall a few years ago, I sawed it off at the ground.

    Well, it is coming back again, and so I get the chance to reevaluate whether or not it is suitable in the garden.

    They are attractive, and can be trimmed as a hedge. I doubt any of our eastern members will be familiar with them as it is a Mediterranean tree unsuited to anything below about zone 7, I am told.

    I really like the tree, but it doesn grow to 20 m. and I have a well established Acer Koto No Ito not that far away.

    My question is whether is practical to grow it as a small tree, using regular prunings to keep it under control, or should I just give up and continue to eliminate it.
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    The DirrVD has other errors of omission and commission as well. One with a Vancouver connection is the picture he used for weeping Alaska cedar which is clearly instead a shot of one of the 'Intertexta' Lawson cypresses in QE Park.

    Oak was probably rootbound and went over for that reason. If so stump will have same problem. Whatever the cause you have already seen it is liable to have problems growing on your site, and you have listed other reasons for not having it there.

    Planting made awhile back at an institution near here (Lynnwood, WA) had pretty high mortality but those that did make it are now actually reseeding. ~Full-sized older specimens very rare in western WA, for whatever reasons. I've seen one big one on Bainbridge Island and another of some size in Seattle, and very few if any others.

    We don't need a lot of them here in our dull climate as this species can be a gloomy landscape feature. Possibly you would find another, shrubbier species as or more interesting. Otherwise if it can be used as a sheared hedge it should be possible to maintain it as a small tree with a comparatively natural appearance, intermediate between a topiary and one with no pruning at all.
     
  3. Bill

    Bill Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    I may just try that.

    Proximate Kousa Dogwood and a Magnolia as well as the Acer make allowing it to reach any size undesirable, but I do enjoy the use of the oak foliage for flower arrangements and it is a pleasant looking tree, although perhaps better in isolation on the top of a rise somewhere than in what amounts to a grove at my place.

    We have, like a lot of the local areas, a few feet (when lucky) of good soil over hardpan, so I wonder if that condition was what gave the oak problems. It certainly does not deter any of the other trees I have planted.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    Most new ones seen here recently rootbound, as is much container nursery stock. Otherwise climate and/or exposure could have produced susceptible top growth.
     
  5. keith from cork

    keith from cork Member

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    I have a few trees in my garden including Holm oak.
    I was able to save these trees when I first built my house 4 years ago-As they were already on the site I managed to keep them pruned to about 5 foot and after four years they now look like "Mini" trees and get quite a lot of attention from people visiting,They include holm oak,Laurel Alder and Sallow.
    I am so glad that I decided to keep them :)
     
  6. Bill

    Bill Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Thanks, perhaps I'll give a try at keeping them as small speciment trees. I got this one from a friend who had it planted out in his garden for a couple of years but decided to make a change. It could have been root bound, but I always loosen roots when planting and I think it was probably just snow weighted by a wet snowfall and didn't come back up again.

    As far as root bound goes, even trees planted out at nurseries can be in trouble. Around here they use up their topsoil in their first few years of operation and afterward just stick the small tress in the underlying hardpan. The result is that you get a rootball that can be solid clay.

    I had a Davidia that probably weighed c. 900 lbs. that had to go across my lot by hand. The terrain was too soft to use my usual dolly and I finally bare rooted the tree - which probably did it no end of good (it did my back a lot of good too!)
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    Most rootbound trees come from nurseries. The problem is leaving the stock in pots too long.
     

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