SG592: Trees: Caring for the Garden’s Gentle Giants with Rex Bastian


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Trees are the Gentle Giants of our Gardens and today we are so fortunate to learn from Master Arborist and Beloved Industry Expert Rex Bastian. Trees are so essential to our lives. They give us oxygen. They anchor the soil. They provide shelter and store carbon. In the garden, trees provide so very much, yet many gardeners often feel uncertain about caring for their trees; unsure of how to properly care for them and unsure of how or when to prune them. Indeed, when problems arise, we can be at a loss for how to best help our trees. Without much baseline knowledge, most of us have much to learn about trees. Today’s guest Rex Bastian will share some insights and practical tips to get you started on the path toward better tree stewardship. Increased knowledge about tree stewardship not only benefits our trees, but also our gardens, our environment, wildlife, our communities, the economy, our health, and even the future. I learned so much from my chat with Rex. I wanted to give you a preview of five things I learned from Rex that I think are valuable insights to help you take better care of the trees in your garden. When you hear Rex talk about these in the interview - you’ll know to pay particularly close attention to these key points. 1. Trees don’t heal. They seal off. So when there is a wound or a problem, that’s how trees respond. It’s their way. 2. Trees shed branches and leaves to make handling their large mass more manageable. This is something we need to be more aware of as we become better monitors of our trees and their health. 3. Trees must grow. They are committed to increasing their mass. If they stop growing, they die. We’ve all seen Russian nesting dolls and the rings on trees. Trees grow like those russian nesting dolls - adding a whole layer to the tree every year. So whether they are growing fast or slow - it only matters that they grow. In the world of trees - it’s grow or die. 4. The "Decline Spiral" of trees can be stopped - if it’s caught early enough. So knowing your trees is very important. 5. The phenomenon that occurs every fall - when the leaves on the trees change colors and fall off - is awe-inspiring. But, the science behind it is often misunderstood. Most people think that cool weather alone causes leaves to change color. But actually, the lengthening of night-time hours - increasing darkness is the most influential factor among many. I find we always underestimate the power of light and darkness when it comes to plants and their behaviors. Now for a little bit of information about today’s guest. Rex Bastian is a technical advisor for The Davey Tree Expert Company and he recently received a 2017 Award of Distinction from The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Rex was honored with ISA’s 2017 Award of Merit, the ISA's highest honor for outstanding service in advancing the principles, ideals, and practices of arboriculture. Jim Zwack, general manager of the Davey Institute, the Davey Company’s premier research development and innovation division. , says this about Rex, “Rex has a unique combination of breadth and depth of subject matter expertise, and it is difficult to find a topic for which he lacks a qualified opinion. He masterfully combines an enthusiastic teaching style with years of wisdom accrued by observing and assessing the plant health care services we provide for our clients.” Rex started with The Care of Trees (TCOT) in 1989 and joined Davey in 2008 through the TCOT merger with Davey. He works as a regional technical advisor with emphasis on education and training and diagnostics. He holds a Ph.D. in entomology from Iowa State University, and he is an International Society of Arboriculture Board Certified Master Arborist. Rex is getting ready to retire later this year - so I’m thrilled I got the chance to speak with him before he starts the next chapter in his life. Rex has influenced and educated thousands over his career, and I’m so thrilled that he gets the chance to make a difference yet again with the listeners of the Still Growing Gardening Podcast. Without further ado, here’s Rex Bastian.

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