The frosts have arrived and the trees are now finally dormant. Our more recent milder winters seem to delay this slumber of what is called bare-root season. It now seems to be December before our trees have finally dropped their leaves and are sleeping until April.
Shedding of leaves has evolved to reduce winter storm damage, other evergreens have evolved leaves that do not catch the wind well. The fallen leaves protect the soil from cold and erosion and later decay to make excellent nutritious feed to build top soil. The leaves are also important habitat for many insects and mammals over the winter.
Bare-root trees are young trees that have no soil around their exposed roots. This winter dormancy period allows for the movement of deciduous trees – moving them while active mostly results in death. Bare-root trees are a very cost effective way to acquire large amounts of tree stock that would otherwise cost three to four times more if purchased potted. The big advantage of the more expensive potted trees is that they can be planted any time of the year. Evergreens and conifers tend not to be available in bare root format as they don’t really go dormant so only survive movement if potted.
As usual, I will focus on native trees and leave the exotics to my other gardening colleagues.
Choosing your trees
Trees can be located and removed easily in their bare-root presentation from road sides, construction sites or purchased from nurseries and suppliers. Ask for permission if possible, but if their destruction is imminent then I feel it at worst a misdemeanor to move them to a safe location. If purchasing, I would recommend finding nurseries that are sourcing or growing native-Irish-provenance stock rather than those importing from abroad, as the local