Quest for Quercus

My wish list contains an oak tree. Not a Northern red oak (Quercus rubra) like this majestic beauty in the park nearby,  but a scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea).

Scarlet oaks grow on dry, sandy uplands. That sounds just like my garden! And the colour the leaves produce in fall is said to be an even richer red than others in the red oak family.

You can recognize the red oaks by their  pointed rather than rounded leaf tips (the latter belong to the white oak family). The scarlet oak has among the finer, more deeply lobed leaves in the group.

I look forward to joining the folks who complain about their oak leaves not breaking down as quickly as leaves such as my (not so) beloved Norway maples. Just the excuse I need to invest in a leaf shredder to turn my leaves into lovely mulch. Perhaps I’ll put that on my wish list, too.


  1. Oh, I hope you get it very soon.

    I wish we had the room for a big specimen tree, but I'll have to enjoy them vicariously. A leaf shredder sounds like a reasonable request.

  2. Hi Helen, thank you for the ID facts about the oak you seek. I do hope you can find one and also get your shredder. We have an electric small thing, lightweight enough for me to handle fairly easily that blows and vacumns/shreds the leaves. It was not expensive either. At our first TN house with an acre of woods, we had a gas powered blower that you wore on your back and a chipper shredder that was as big as a car. I miss neither, but do miss the acre of woods. 🙂

  3. Thanks, everyone! I found and ordered my leaf mulcher! It should be here in a couple of days… with luck, before the snow.

    Stephanie, This will be more of a street tree than a specimen tree. It's part of my campaign to replace the aging street trees on our, well, street.

    Noelle, For years, I've been piling the maple leaves on my garden, then plucking through the ice age they create in the spring. I'm looking forward to chopping up any leaf I find into nice little tidbits… and hopefully chopping up a few of those tenacious maple seeds, too.

    Frances, So glad to hear you have a shredder you've been using successfully. My only wonder is that it has taken me so long to buy one. (P.S. I'm missing your woods vicariously, too.)

  4. I just love visiting your blog and am not sure why I don't do it more often. I do hope you get a scarlet oak soon. I love all the oaks I think. Funny you mention a leaf shredder. I've had one (a chipper) for about 7 years now and finally took it out the other day. It made short work of the oak leaves and made some wonderful stuff but oh boy did it ever take some time feeding the leaves. I'm not so sure it is worth it. I might just keep raking them on my beds whole. We'll see.

    It's wonderful you were able to meet a fellow Canadian blogger!

  5. Hey Helen, what kind of leaf shredder did you get? Everyone keeps telling me I should invest in one for Kilbourne Grove (with its mountains of leaves).
    Is a scarlet oak on the list of trees that Toronto will replace your street tree with ?

  6. Tina, Glad you stopped by — you're welcome anytime!

    Deborah, The one we ordered (online from is the Flowtron Leaf-Eater. It'll come in at around $225 with tax and delivery. The ones we saw in stores were at least $100 more expensive. It's kind of like a giant weed whipper that chews up leaves (not sticks), and looks a little more compact than others we looked at. The reviews say this one is loud and dusty, but that it works pretty well. I'll give it my unbiased review once it arrives.

    And, no, the scarlet oak isn't on the published list of free street trees, but I spoke to one of the city's tree people a while back who suggested it might be had. TBD.

  7. Helen, Now a leaf shredder is just what is needed for leaves here at C&L! The little vacuum wouldn't work here with 50+ trees dropping their leaves! Will you review it?
    Thank you so much for the info on hedge replacement…I so very much appreciated that. You are a dear for taking the time! gail

  8. Hi Helen. I hope you find your Quercus coccinea soon! I have a Bur Oak in my front yard and it's my pride & joy. I have babied it along ever since I moved here and luckily it responded although no acorns yet. 🙁
    Thanks too for all your great information on Clivias. I think it's so awesome you took the time to look them up and relay the info to me. I am going to follow the recommendations for flowering (holding back water, moving to a cooler spot, etc.) and maybe I'll get another bloom stalk later that will behave properly!

  9. Rosey, This one isn't quite as mighty as the one in the picture, but I like it mighty fine.

    Gail, I'm hoping to review my shredder. And I'm hoping in advance that it'll be a positive review… because I want it to work. But I'll be honest, trust me.

    Kathleen, you're quite welcome. I love finding things out myself, so why not pass them along to the one who raised the question in the first place! Just good comment etiquette, in my book. Good luck with your clivia.

  10. Helen, I remember you had a trick for remembering which were white oaks and red oaks from the leaves. Wasn't it that the red oaks have pointy leaves, like a devil? And the white oaks with their round leaves, are like top of an angel's wing? Helps me remember them now.

You might also like