‘The Second Best Time Is Now!’

By Mike Barhorst - Contributing columnist

You may well have read the Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

Sidney’s Tree Board recently announced their annual tree sale, and the board members have once again chosen some great varieties of trees for public purchase. This year’s selections include the alleghany serviceberry, the pawpaw, the river birch, the black cherry, the Chinquapin oak, and the American basswood.

The alleghhany serviceberry (amelanchier laevis) will grow to a mature height of 15 to 25 feet. It has fragrant, white flowers in the spring, and copper-red foliage in the fall. It has edible, purplish-black fruit in late summer that attracts many species of birds. It has striking gray bark making it a beautiful four-season tree. The tree will come from the nursery in 5-gallon containers, be 6 to 7 foot tall, and will cost $39.

The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) will grow to a mature height of 15 to 30 feet, and has large, tear-drop shaped leaves and branches that deer avoid. In addition, it produces a fruit in late summer that has been described as tasting like a soft blend of banana, melon, vanilla and pineapple all in one. Others have described it as tasting like Boston Cream Pie. The tree will come in a 7-gallon container, be 4 to 5-feet-tall, and will cost $69.

The river birch (betula nigra) will grow to a mature height of 40 to 70 feet. As the name suggests, the river birch grows along riverbanks. As a landscape tree, it can be planted almost anywhere in the U.S. The species is valued for its relatively rapid growth, tolerance of wetness and some drought, unique curling bark, spreading limbs, and relative resistance to disease. The tree prefers direct sunlight and when mature, has cinnamon brown to parchment colored exfoliating bark in the fall, and the leaves turn a golden color. The tree will come in a 5-gallon container, be 6 to 7 feet in height, and will cost $36.

The black cherry (pruns serotina) a rapidly-growing woodland tree is common throughout all of Ohio. It will grow to a mature height of 60 to 80 feet. Its beautiful, fine-grained, orange-brown to mahogany-colored heartwood ranks second only to black walnut as the ultimate choice for making solid wood furniture, interior trim, and high-quality veneer. It has fragrant clusters of flowers in the spring that produce small fruits are relished by birds and mammals as a food source in late summer. This tree is named for its ripened black cherries as well as its black-gray, flaky mature bark, which looks like black cornflakes pasted on the trunk of the tree. Its dark green leaves turn yellow in the fall. The tree will come in a 5-gallon container, be 6 to 7 feet in height, and cost $39.

The Chinnquapin oak (quercus muehlenbergii) is ideal for larger lawns. It will grow to a mature height of 40 to 50 feet although it can grow 80 feet tall in a woodland setting. It has glistening dark green leaves in summer that turn yellow-orange to orangish-brown in the fall. This tree produces 1” acorns that are prized by many wildlife species. The bark is an ashy light gray that breaks into narrow, thin flakes. The tree will come in a 7-gallon container, be 6 to 7 feet in height, and cost $72.

The American basswood (tilia Americana) will grow to a height of 70 to 80 feet. The tree is a favorite of favorite of bees as they extract nectar from its yellow to white fragrant flowers that bloom from late May to early July, making a very high-quality honey in the process. The weak wood of this tree is both lightweight and odorless, however, the inner bark of this and other Basswoods is very tough, and the Native Americans cut it into thin strips and used it for rope, mats, and even bandages. The stately appearance of American basswood makes it a favorite shade tree for large areas. Its large, heart-shaped leaves are the largest of any of the native basswoods. Songbirds and blue jays are attracted to the trees’ seeds and will often build nests in this tree. The tree will come in a 5-gallon container, be 6 to 7 feet in height, and cost $39.

Order forms are available online, and hard copies of the order form are available at the service center, 415 S. Vandemark Road, and at City Hall, 201 W. Poplar St. The order forms must be returned to the service center before noon on Oct. 7, 2022. Payment by check or money order must be made at the time the trees are ordered.

The trees will be delivered from the nursery in easy to handle containers. They will be available for pickup on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 10 a.m. until noon. The trees should only be planted on your property, not along the street in the tree lawn.

I want to take this opportunity to encourage residents to purchase trees and plant them. The city has lost thousands of trees in the past decade as a result of the emerald ash borer. Not only has the emerald ash borer devastated Sidney’s ash trees, it has killed tens of millions of ash trees across the eastern United States. It is expected that before the devastation is over, it will kill most of the 8,700,000,000 ash trees in North America

It is easy to see the devastating impact the emerald ash borer has had on the environment. Replenishing the urban forest is one way that each of us can contribute in a small way to helping reverse the impact of the emerald ash borer.

Trees provide oxygen-improving air quality. They provide climate amelioration, help conserve water, preserve soil by reducing runoff, and support wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe.

In fact, on average, one tree produces near 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four. An acre of mature trees can produce enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe for a year although it should be remembered that not all trees produce the same amount of oxygen in the same amount of time.

I want to commend Sidney’s Tree Board for again sponsoring a tree sale. Under the able chairmanship of Ann Asher, the board includes Vice-chair Michael Jannides, Ross Moore III, Joyce Reier and Rick Steenrod. This is a good time to thank Anne Sharp, who recently retired after serving two terms on the Tree Board. The board’s volunteer efforts have significantly bolstered Sidney’s urban forest.

In addition to their efforts, we also have an arborist on staff. Street Department Superintendent Brian Green is a certified arborist, and can be reached by phone at 937-498*8159 or email at [email protected] with questions you may have about trees on your property.

Another valuable resource is the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry’s Urban Forester Wendi VanBuren, who serves Shelby County and the other 13 counties that comprise her district. Wendi can be reached by email at [email protected] or phone at 513-897-1082 with questions you may have regarding the trees on your property.

The trees being sold are grown by Woody Nursery in Indiana. They are grade A trees, and all are native species. However, neither the city nor the nursery is guaranteeing the trees since once they leave our care, we have no way of knowing when or how the tree is planted, as well as the care the person receiving the tree is providing it once planted.

I did purchase a tulip poplar tree in the 2017 sale, and I am happy to report that it is doing well. With a bit of pruning, it has required little other care on my part, which is fortunate because of my busy schedule.

I plan to plant four trees in my yard this year, and would encourage you to join me in planting trees in your yard as well. If you didn’t plant a tree in your yard twenty years ago, now is the time! And, even if you did, perhaps there’s room for another.


By Mike Barhorst

Contributing columnist

The writer is an At-large Sidney City Council member and a former mayor of Sidney.

The writer is an At-large Sidney City Council member and a former mayor of Sidney.