The Joy of Planting Trees: Try this at home today!

Posted on Oct 30, 2014 | Comments Off on The Joy of Planting Trees: Try this at home today!

Some people have a bucket list of things to see and do. I’ve never made a list but do have a bucket goal of seeing how many good trees I can plant in this lifetime.  Planting trees is one of the happiest things to do in a day and I highly recommend it to lift your mood for years to come.

fall tree and sky

I drove by my first house in Asheville the other day. From the road I could see behind the teensy bungalow and see at least one of the three or so trees I planted during my brief time there. I worked night shift then and hadn’t become the garden geek I am now but it still felt right to put in a few trees. The one I saw was the ornamental cherry tree planted so one could look out on pink blooms while washing dishes instead of at the neighbor while she washed dishes in her window a few yards away. She was a very nice neighbor, but still, washing dishes can be a contemplative delight if you look out on something beautiful you planted.

If I knew then what I know now I would plant a different kind of tree. At the time I was just thinking about pretty scenery and hadn’t yet realized how much MORE fun it is to plant something pretty that also delights birds and bees and butterflies and songbirds. So now, I would have looked for a flowering tree that had nectar in the blooms (unlike the sterile blossoms of the Kwanzan cherry)  for the bees and butterflies and produced fruit later for the birds. Or fruit for the birds and the gardeners.

prairie fire crabapple

These days I look for trees and plants that are, you know, Larrapin!  That is, dee-lish  and delightful for all of us.  Something more like the Prairie Fire Crabapple shown in the pic above. That one I planted at our home in Fayetteville, Arkansas while we were there. It’s a disease-resistant small tree that offers gorgeous blooms beloved by pollinators in spring followed by tiny red fruit the birds love. It also provided  patch of lovely shade for the bedroom window in summer but let the winter sun shine in. That’s Larrapin!

deer under the apples

Another way to say it would be: Choose the most generous trees. While every tree gives something to its surroundings, some are wildly generous to you and to the living world. Go for those! I am so grateful the previous owners of Five Apple Farm planted the apples that gave the farm its new name. Those apples have been giving gifts every season for years now. What a joy! I’m adding more apple trees, grafted from the old ones, so that some future owner will have a similar joy long after I’ve plowed to the end of my row…

The white oak is a tree that Doug Tallamy put at the top of his tree list in terms of benefit for pollinators and wildlife. Why pollinators when it has no flowers? Because every butterfly  was a larval caterpillar once! And caterpillars eat leaves. And songbirds feed must feed their babies insects, especially caterpillars. So a white oak is the all-they-can-eat buffet winner and I haven’t even mentioned acorns for wildlife.

I’ll stop here for today but with all the ideas on this topic jumping around in my head, there’s likely to be more here soon on planting generous trees.  The best time of all to plant trees is now, in Autumn right up until the ground freezes.  A dormant tree may look like nothing it going on but with a good layer of mulch it will be working on growing a root system much of the fall and then early spring while it’s too wet to dig planting holes. That root system will put it far ahead of spring planted trees when summer 2015 comes. Not to mention a lot of nurseries are having sales right now. For blooms next Spring like the ones below, get planting now. Gentlewomen and Gentlemen: start your shovels!

with love, Leigh

crabapple bloom







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