At the edge of my property a stand of trees, with winding branches and dark green leaves makes the perfect hideout for wildlife. I did think they were Dahoon Holly trees, but I was mistaken. They are invasive Brazilian pepper trees and have become a problem for Floridians.
This thick area of trees and shrubs is where the raccoons come from each night. It’s also where the zillions of stray cats walk as they pass through the yard.
I don’t know if the birds knew I wanted photos today, but they showed up in droves. Unfortunately I am not such a good wildlife photographer! I saw a bunch of grosbeaks gathered on a berry laden branch, and got this photo of a robin (center of picture) – not a good photo, I know. In fact, the many birds have nearly eaten all the berries!
Even as the berries give the birds food, it is also what helps to spread the growth of these trees. The birds spread the seeds.
So how to tell the difference between trees that have clumps of red berries? The Brazilian Pepper has 9 leaves and the leaves are dark green. The Dahoon Holly’s leaves are more true green and are fewer. At least, from photos I’ve seen, that looks like the difference. Also the pepper has that tangled mass of trunks, whereas the holly grows more like a regular tree.
The trunk can actually be split into many trunks, like in my photo below.
I’ve been enjoying the big hydrangea trees that I see blooming in my neighborhood. How lovely it would be to have a big tree with these lovely blooms! For one thing, hydrangea flowers last a long time, so the tree would look beautiful all summer and into fall.
None of my hydrangea shrubs are very large yet, and this year the blue one did not bloom well. I have only one blue flower, which is disappointing. But the only hydrangea in my yard that will become a small tree is the Pinky Winky.
Certain hydrangeas can be trimmed to become trees. The Limelight can be purchased as a tree, so obviously you could trim it to become one.
My Limelight bushes had long stems and I was experimenting with ways to get them to grow more compactly, but then I moved away. I planted a Limelight hydrangea on each side of my front steps, and they really needed to be in a place with more space to grow. Their long lanky stems may have been caused from lack of sun, although they did get sun, but not all day.
One of my favorite hydrangeas is the Pee Gee (Paniculata grandiflora – PG). I bought one but it died (photo below), due to my poor choice of planting location. I never had a chance to get another one while I lived in New Hampshire and now in Florida, they won’t survive.
The Pee Gee has beautiful white flowers and can be trained into a tree by choosing one main stem, or possibly two, and removing the others. This is the basic way to train a shrub into a tree. Spring is the best time to do this, as the shrub will be ready to take off and grow. Pee Gee’s bloom on new wood, so all new growth in Spring has the potential to produce flowers. For that reason, never trim late in the season when flower heads could be removed.
The website The Spruce has more information about the Pee Gee and how to care for it and turn it into a tree.