Trees are Our Best Buds
During the winter, the vulnerable growing points of a tree are protected from cold by being enclosed in tiny leaves. These tiny leaves are called bud scales, which remain on the tree when other leaves fall, enclosing the delicate tip. The buds are waterproof and tough, supplemented by resins and gums. Buds can be both leaf buds and/or flower buds. Spring bud burst is triggered primarily by temperature.

In the winter, identifying trees without their noticeable leaves, flowers and fruit can be done by closely observing the subtleties of buds. The relative size, shape and orientation on the twig of the buds are unique to each species of tree. Once you recognize a bud from a certain tree, it becomes familiar, like the face of an old friend. Combat plant blindness by going outside on a warmer day and observing what tree buds look like on your trees as they burst open in spring.
Korean Mountain Ash
Red Maple
Trees are 'my universe' but I'm not alone. Many organisms spend their whole lives in and around trees, which is why so many tree species bring substantial biodiversity to where they are planted. However, this benefit can be multiplied by the presence of epiphytes (plants) and lichen that grow on the surface of the tree bark. Plants stacked up on other plants, if you like, all attracting a range of microbes and invertebrates, which then attract bird interest and other wildlife.

I am often asked if mosses or lichen growing on trees are a problem, to which the genuine answer is 'No.’ We have a limited view on what a tree should look like, so any variation is considered a problem.
These 'cling-ons' are not the aggressive Klingons of Star Trek fame, they are vital additions to biodiversity, using the bark of the tree only as a surface to cling to and adding benefits besides biodiversity; like purifying the air you are currently breathing.
The word 'epiphyte' comes from the Greek, meaning 'an additional plant' or 'one plant on top of another.’ The growth of epiphytes on many trees is a sign of good air conditions and a better natural environment.

I would love to say that this was 'the norm' for trees in my area, but as you get nearer to towns, cities and highways, the range of epiphytes and lichen growing on trees drops radically in quantity and species diversity. This kind of Nature thrives only in very natural and unpolluted places and rarely in urbanized areas. The damage we cause is there to see, in the bare lifeless bark of trees that would otherwise be a whole universe of LIFE.
High in the canopy, bromeliads are common sight in the foggy rainforest of Peru.
Filamentous lichen cast a sea green glow in the woods.
Polypody ferns find a home in the humid and dark woods of Washington State
Bright green mosses decorate a tree stump
Spiny tillandsia air plants hang from a tree in Austin Texas.
Sour Cream Coffee Cake
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 ½ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sour cream
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped nuts
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
Heat oven to 375. Grease tube pan. Mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy about 2 minutes. Mix in flour, baking powder, soda, and salt alternately with sour cream.

Spread 1/3 batter in pan and sprinkle 1/3 filling; repeat 2 times.
Bake 50 minutes.
Thanks for Reading
and Happy Planting!
Faith Appelquist
President & Founder