ANSWER: When a large enough tree is trimmed to be or by nature is programmed to be pyramidal…..that is more telephone pole than umbrella in shape.

Unfortunately if there are 200 words, not including the names of plants, associated with performing landscape garden art, the typical homeowner knows about six. The worker at the local plant store knows ten.

The modern American has become too divorced from the woody plant world around them.

Most homeowners cannot explain what a conifer is. Many of those under 50 don’t know or cannot remember what deciduous means. Mentioning a bush refers to anything bushy.

What’s a shade tree? In our part of the world the usual answer is elm, maple, ash, and oak.

When most folks lived in a city, houses were built two story. Even these structures were buried by mature Silver Maples and Elms, with homeowners never realizing the peril leaning over there heads when these trees reached maturity. In those days trees to reach mammoth sizes were planted in the middle of the front yard….where there was space for it, was the stated reason.

Homeowners in our Northland call trees which hang on to their ‘needles’ all winter long ‘pine’. Whether spruce, fir, arborvitae, juniper, hemlock, or pine, all evergreens are called ‘pine’……(No one ever heard of chamaecyparis a generation ago.)

The larger forms of these ‘evergreens’, except the spruce and fir, including the unmentioned larch, which would be called pine if this group didn’t shed their needles every autumn, are actually by nature SHADE TREES, but no one, including those in the industry who should know better, calls them SHADE TREES.

Except for many of their cultivars, large spruce and fir tend to, by nature, form like a Christmas Tree…..NOT SO with pine, hemlock, juniper, and generally with arborvitae by nature, that is.

Up in northland Minnesota where son, Christian, owns a lakehouse, the American Arborvitae is rank, native along side fir, pine, birch, red maple, and aspen. Nearly every mature arborvitae is pruned to look like a shade tree. Not because these tens of thousands had some loco landscape gardener hand shear each one…….the Virginia White Tail Deer do it for mankind.

My two favorite large shade trees for landscape use or to be seen in Nature itself in our Northland, are the White Pine and the White Oak. Drop by to check out Duluth or Grand Rapids if there are doubts regarding the White Pine.

Another beautiful evergreen conifer, conifer meaning cone-producing, is probably among the most beautiful midstory conifers anywhere in the world is a Canadian Hemlock raised from youth to become a shade tree of twenty five to fifty feet at some degree of maturity.