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Meet the Gardener

She has flourishing second career as a tree consultant

By: Gloria Young, Home & Garden
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When Newcastle’s Vicky Bartish began considering a second career, the former emergency room nurse decided plants and trees were the obvious choice. When she retired from nursing in mid-1990, she started with a small backyard herb nursery in Rancho Cordova where she sold ornamental and medicinal herbs. “Just growing the herbs was therapeutic for me,” she said recently. “I’d always feel better after I went out pruning them. I think it was just absorbing the energy.” Then her interests branched out to herbal trees. “I worked at Lake’s nursery for four years,” she said. “During that time, I decided that my passion was definitely trees.” While at Lake’s, she became a certified nurseryman and continued studying when she left, taking the arborist exam three years ago. She then worked at High Ranch Nursery, where she became even more interested in trees and the growing of them, she said. Two years ago, she started Shades of Green, a home-based business providing consultations on tree care. “(I can help) whatever is involved in the health of a tree, anytime anyone has a tree in distress,” she said. “I also do consulting on tree placement — when trees need to come out, when it is the wrong tree in the wrong place.” Placement of trees is an issue she sees frequently. “Failure to thrive is the No. 1 reason I’m called to see a tree,” she said. “I make sure the trees I recommend are the correct ones for the climate and the space. Not looking at those issues before you plant a tree can cause you an awful lot of trouble. People want to know why trees aren’t thriving. What I’m finding a lot is they haven’t planted them correctly. They haven’t prepared the soil, or have planted them in a hole where they have drainage issues or wrong exposure. Sometimes it is because they put them on a drip system with inadequate water.” Bartish moved to Newcastle from Michigan Bluff in 2004, when she found the perfect property. “It is what I would consider one of the finest arboretums I have ever seen,” she said. “I just happened to be offered a place and went over to see it. It was three aces of magnificent trees. ... Every window I look out of is trees. I could never be in a better place.” Bartish is particularly fond of tupelo trees. Another favorite is the Japanese maple, which is her specialty. “Don’t put them on a drip system,” she advised about Japanese maples. “Give them plenty of mulch because they have shallow roots. They are totally unforgiving. They will drop all their leaves and start over. They don’t have huge root systems. I’ve never seen anyone with a Japanese maple that lifted the sidewalk or foundation.” At Eisley Nursery in Auburn, customers can choose from a dozen types of Japanese maples. “ You can’t really use a Japanese maple as a shade tree,” Eisley sales clerk Julie Guagliardo said Monday. “They won’t get big enough or it will take too long (to grow). … Some people put them near a pond if it is in the shade and then plant around the Japanese maple and make it the specimen tree. That’s the focal point.” When not consulting for Shades of Green or working as store manager at Unique Backyard in Loomis, Bartish tends her home garden and her trees. “I have a collection of Japanese maples on the shady side and the garden, herbs and citrus are on the sunny side,” she said. “I like to grow plants that you can eat or that smell good or both.”