I’ve begun my quest to complete task number 5 on my Saturday To Do list, the one I started last weekend.
Task number 5 is “Go buy a tree. Plant a tree”. Easier written down than done.
There is much to consider in buying a tree. Where do you want to plant it? Are there utilities overhead that it might interfere with? How about underground? Are there other trees nearby that it could interfere with?
Are you planting for shade? For spring flowering? Do you want brilliant fall foliage? What about seed pods or other fruit? Should the tree be decidious or evergreen? Is it to be a focal point or part of a mixed border?
Is it one that local nurseries actually sell?
For whatever reason, the tree I want to add to my garden, a Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina), doesn’t seem to be all that common around here.
I called a garden center near where I work. The person who answered the phone had never heard of a Silverbell, and did not recognize the genus.
I called a nursery way on the other side of town. They checked and lo and behold, they have two of them, in 15 gallon pots, about eight tall. Sounded perfect, but they are clear on the other side of the city. I asked if I they were in good shape, and could I just buy one over the phone and have it delivered.
“Sorry”, the very helpful person said, “you have to come and see it first.” At this time of year, the best time of year to actually buy and plant trees, trees don’t look their best and therefore, the nursery won’t sell a tree to a customer unless they go there and actually see the tree first. I suppose they’ve sold trees over the phone before and the person refused it when they tried to deliver it, so they don’t do that any more. I agreed, I really should see the tree first.
Did I mention that nursery is way on the other side of town. Even if I go there, I’ll still have them deliver it.
Then after work I stopped in at a garden center that I pass on my way home. They were quite helpful, quite willing to get me a Carolina Silverbell, once I told them what it was. They pulled out their reference book to determine that it was commercially available, and then checked the catalogs from all three of their supplies. Three strikes, no Carolina Silverbell.
So way on the other side of town are two Carolina Silverbells, and one of them could be mine. I just have to figure out when I can get there to see them, and buy one, if I like it.
In some ways, buying a tree reminds me of buying a new puppy.
You do want to see the tree first, just like you would want to see the puppy before you got it.
With both the tree and the puppy, you want to see if it is healthy, understand what kind of care it will need, and read up on how big it will eventually get.
You have to decide if it would it be happy in a little garden or does it like a lot of space, to spread its limbs if it is a tree or to run if it is a puppy.
You want to know if the tree is likely to be messy and drop leaves or seeds or nuts all over the yard or if it is neat and tidy. You want to know if the puppy is likely to shed fur all over the place or is one of those breeds that doesn’t.
With a tree, you have to decide if you want a named variety, like the red maple, Acer rubrum ‘Autumn Blaze’ whose leaves are pictured above, or would just a plain red maple be suitable. With a puppy, you have to decide between a purebred or a mutt.
And with both a tree and a puppy, you have to remember that you are forging a long-term relationship. You will have the dog for whatever years its natural lifespan is and you will have the tree for as long as you have your garden.
Yes, buying a tree is like buying a puppy.
Did I mention that I don’t have a dog?
But I am looking to get a new tree!