Back to School: Arboriculture

The days are counting down for the first school bell to ring. Not long now! Before you know it, summer will be a sun-tinged memory replaced by teachers, books and a return to learning.

CLC Tree Services knows that education is important; from kindergarten all the way up through post-secondary. Owner and college graduate Calvin McCallum is always reinforcing that by increasing his own knowledge in industry practices and standards, and encourages his staff to do likewise. A love of trees is great, but you cannot beat the skills learned in a formal Arboriculture program. Calvin himself has an Arboriculture certificate from Fleming College and is always on the lookout for Certified Arborists to join the crew.

If you think climbing trees for a living sounds look a good gig, there are a few things you should consider before becoming an arborist. You must be;

  • 2014-06-19 13.34.24physically fit
  • NOT afraid of heights
  • willing to work outdoors in a wide range of weather
  • accept that you will get dirty on the job
  • open to learning new skills and experiences
  • work well with others in a team setting
  • love trees

If you ticked off all of the above and are even more excited to join the Tree Services Industry, there are a few educational options in Ontario to look into;

Post-Secondary Arboriculture Programs

Fleming College

Humber College

In addition to that, the ISA offers certification workshops throughout the year to further your education and skills as an arborist. ISA certification brings with it another level of stature making you recognized as a qualified, knowledgeable expert in the field and is recognized across North America.

And just so you know, CLC Tree Services is always looking for Certified Arborists to join our team. Contact us when you graduate!

CLC Tree Services team

Join the CLC Tree Services team!

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Spotlight on The Cucumber Tree

The Cucumber Tree: 

An Endangered Native Species

As harvests begin to hit farm stands in Ontario, we are inundated with delicious, fresh produce. There are strawberries, tomatoes, corn, peaches and plenty of cucumbers for those who like them. But did you know that cucumbers also grow on trees? Well, not the kind you turn into pickles or add to a salad, but Canada’s only native magnolia tree is called a Cucumber Tree.

Magnolia acuminata flower bud

Map of Cucumber Trees

Cucumber Trees in Ontario

Magnolia acuminata is a deciduous tree which grows upwards of 30 metres. It prefers moist, well-drained soils, full sun, and is usually found as a specimen tree, rather than in a stand of them. The cucumber tree is primarily located in the Eastern United States, but there are small pockets of them found in Southwestern Ontario. Sadly, the pockets in Ontario are so small that the tree is named on Ontario’s Species at Risk list, as an endangered species. As of most recent surveys, there are approximately 170-190 mature trees in Ontario, occurring in Norfolk County and the Niagara region, but due to fragmented forests, deforestation and poor habitat, these trees are threatened.

Cucumber magnolia.jpg

“Cucumber magnolia” by Mike Parker (talk) – Photo taken by Michael Parker. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia.

The good news is that cucumber trees don’t face extirpation any time soon, as there are plenty of them still in the US. These massive trees have large green oval leaves with smooth edges which form in simple, alternate patterns. The bark on mature trees has scaly ridges and is grayish brown. Nondescript yellowish-green flowers occur high in the tree in the spring. The subsequent fruit finally gives a clue as to the naming of the tree—the green immature fruit is shaped like a small cucumber. As it matures later in the summer, it turns dark red, until it pops open to expose scarlet seed pods dangling by delicate white threads.

While the cucumber tree is endangered, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has a plan to help the cucumber tree revive. A recovery strategy is in place, which now protects the limited areas where the trees exist in Ontario. Research is underway to better understand the reproduction of the tree as well. The hope is to also increase the number of specimens, thereby ultimately moving Magnolia acuminata off the endangered list.

For those of you who are willing to help protect cucumber trees in Ontario, your task is a big one, but necessary if we want to continue to enjoy these majestic trees in Canada. Contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Species at Risk biologist to discuss what you can do to help move this endangered species off the list, so future generations can enjoy it as well.

Help save the Cucumber tree

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PLAY: Naturally…

It’s been a while since Curt watched Calvin scramble up a climber at the park. Nowadays it’s trees he shinnies up, but he knows that the local park played a role in his son Calvin’s development. So when Jeff Crosby contacted him last fall for assistance in a little project he was undertaking, Curt was all ears. Crosby Landscape and Design had won a tender to rebuild a playground for the Thames Valley School District (TVDSB).

Playground Installations
Where did CLC Tree Services come into the picture? Jeff wanted to know if Curt had any wood.

Wooden Stoves

Wooden Stoves expand play at several of the playgrounds built by Crosby Landscape

“Of course!” was Curt’s enthusiastic response.

Several truckloads of logs have been delivered since then. Jeff needs a lot of wood for the playgrounds he constructs. They aren’t your typical metal and plastic climbers. In fact, while these designs still hold some traditional elements, like slides and climbing structures, they are a far cry from the metal climbers which burned the hands and bums of youth a few years ago. The vision created by the architect and TVDSB was of playspaces filled with natural elements, open-ended items which children could use their imagination to expand their play with, and a softer space for safer fun to be had.


Different musical elements are included in playgrounds, like this Xylophone at Victoria PS

Crosby Landscape has fulfilled that mandate and taken it further. For every truckload of logs that CLC Tree Services has dropped off, Crosby’s team has built musical instruments, custom art walls, sandboxes, tables and chairs, stages complete with audience seating, climbers made from different heights of stumps, retaining walls, stepping-stones, and so much more.

Before any cuts are taken, the crew measures every log that will be put in place on the structures created

Before any cuts are taken, the crew measures every log that will be put in place on the structures created

Gone is the pea gravel, as thick layers of mulch now coat the ground around balance beams. Sand boxes are framed in by thick logs or natural stone slabs. Wooden stages encourage children to embrace their creative side. Or to just enjoy the show from stump seating installed in front. It is all designed to spark play and so far it’s working. Crosby Landscape has built upwards of nine playgrounds already, with another four more in the works before the summer is done. And Jeff is hoping to see a few more tenders sent his way this fall as well.



No trolls live under the bridge at Byron Somerset CC

Byron Somerset Children’s Centre was the recipient of one of those playgrounds this past June. So far it’s a hit with staff and children alike. They love their new play space. It incorporates gardens and planters for the children to plant flowers and edible plants, complete with wooden slab stepping-stones. A quaint wooden bridge is flanked by soft mulch; much easier on tender toddler knees still prone to topple. The art wall is used regularly, as are the play tables, which are perfect for plenty of sensory play.

Crosby Bear

A signature item, the Crosby Bear is found somewhere on every playground installation

While one of the favourite places for the children is the sandbox, Jeff has another feature which he is proud of—the Crosby Bear. Every playground he builds has one and they are all unique. At Byron Somerset, it hides in a log planter. At Victoria Public School, where they are working this week, the Crosby Bear will be installed in a totem pole of sorts, complete with a Viking—the school’s mascot. The bears are created by local chainsaw carver Mike Winia and donated by Crosby Landscape. They add another personalized and playful element to a space kids can’t help but love.

The success of the playgrounds has been noticed. Crosby Landscape has been part of playground installations for the Catholic School Board and playgrounds as far away as Sarnia and Corunna. It certainly keeps Jeff’s dedicated crew of 12 busy on top of his other landscape and design projects. And for that he is grateful.

So if the phone rings again at CLC Tree Services with a request for a few more logs for Crosby Landscape, the answer will be yes. Outdoor play helps to build healthy minds and bodies. And if CLC Tree Services can be even a small part of helping make that happen, we are proud to lend a hand. Bring on the Play!


The new playground at Byron Somerset CC is a hit with both children and caregivers alike thanks to Crosby Landscape

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A Day with CLC: Summer Tree Work

IMG_0525Summertime in the city means time for fun in the sun and there’s nothing CLC Tree Services likes better than to catch those rays up in a tree. Lucky us, we get that opportunity all the time! Sometimes we even capture a moment or two to share with you, our fans and readers. Today is one of those days.

If you look real close, you can see one of the boys in orange high in the sky in the photo on the left.

IMG_0523The guys on the ground are part of the crew too, but needed a little less sunblock than our man in the sky while they worked in the shade of this sugar maple this past July. Aren’t you jealous of the cool and refreshing backyard, they called a workplace that day?
IMG_0526Meanwhile, back in the tree the chainsaw was busy. There were a few more limbs to go before they could call it a day though. The crew earns their showers at the end of the day, let me tell you!

Hot, sunny days come with the territory when you are an arborist in London, Ontario in the summer. Regardless of the temperature, the crews are out tending to the trees of the Forest City, as rainy days bring work to a wet halt. So we slather on the sunscreen and make sure our harnesses are on good and tight. Safety is a number one priority, and that includes protecting eyes, ears, skin and lives.

sugar maple

We’ve got wood!

IMG_0522Once the tree was down, a few more rays could make their way into this backyard though. And after a little more cutting, there will be a heck of a campfire to be had.

We love when our clients find the silver lining in our line of work — tree removal=firewood!

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An Ash Tree’s Story

ash tree

A healthy white ash tree shades Jim Rae’s home in London, Ontario

We know the story all too well…

The emerald ash borer (EAB) was discovered in Ontario in 2002. It is native to Asia and is believed to have arrived in North America via wood packaging or pallets. After establishing a foothold in the Detroit area, it crossed over into Windsor. By 2006, it had made its way to London, Ontario and has been racing across Canada and the United States since then.

Regulated area of Canada against EAB

Telltale S-shaped gallery under the bark of an ash tree - the mark of the EAB

Telltale S-shaped gallery under the bark of an ash tree – the mark of the EAB

In 2014, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) established a regulated area for EAB. To deter its spread, they prohibit the movement of ash wood or wood products with hefty fines and have created a massive media effort to help inform the public of the threat to ash trees from this invasive species. Unfortunately, millions of ash trees have succumbed to this virulent insect, which can kill a tree in less than two years and leaves behind a dangerous threat to any nearby people or properties, due to the fragile nature of the trees once they are dead.

This nightmare need not be the story everywhere though.

There is something you can do. And it is available from CLC Tree Services, right here in London, Ontario. While the city has been cutting down affected Fraxinus for the last several years, CLC Tree Services has offered TreeAzin® treatments as a preventive measure for ash trees against the EAB.

60' tall white ash

60′ tall white ash in London, ON

So when Jim Rae heard rumblings that the EAB was heading his way, he contacted Curt McCallum. A 60′ tall white ash tree had stood in his backyard almost as long as the nearly 70-year-old house had been there. It had survived several owners, a pool’s installation at its base, and the building of a tree fort in its limbs for Jim’s children, who are now grown and gone. There was no way he wanted to see the tree lost, if there was anything which could be done about it.

Curt’s suggestion – TreeAzin® treatments needed to be initiated.

No D-shaped holes mark this white ash. Only the telltale sign of TreeAzin treatments

No D-shaped holes mark this white ash. Only the lingering sign of TreeAzin® treatments

That was over 7 years ago. Today, the ash tree still stands proudly shading the house, pool, and several other nearby trees. Green leaves flutter in the breeze high in the lush canopy of this thriving ash. The only holes to be found in the trunk of this Fraxinus are the ones left behind by the TreeAzin® treatments, which have been re-administered every two years. You can’t find the EAB’s D-shaped exit holes in this ash and for that, Jim is grateful.

Lush, green canopy of a white ash tree

Lush, green canopy of a white ash tree

Next year will be the ash tree’s fourth TreeAzin® treatment, but Jim doesn’t begrudge the cost in the least. In fact, CLC Tree Services also added cabling to the tree last year and a few years before. Retaining the majestic ash tree is worth it for this homeowner though.

In a neighbourhood where the streets are tree-lined, children’s names get etched into wet curbs, and white picket fences decorate otherwise fenceless properties, a thriving ash tree adds a touch of hope for the world at large. Sometimes we just have to work a little harder to ensure the world and its treasures will be there for the next generation to enjoy.

We are happy to report that this ash tree’s story is a happy one.

Sydney - name in curb


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