Gardening June 2021

From Mélie’s Garden

For about seven years during the winter, I have sent a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation. In the late spring, I receive a small collection of bare-root trees as a thank you. There is a choice of the type of trees you would like to have; I have always chosen “The Wild-Bird Collection”. They arrive as small rooted sticks in a plastic bag and I am amazed that they survive the trip through the mail, but they do. This year my package contained:

            2 Arrowwood Viburnums (Viburnum dentatum)

            1 Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

            1 Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens)

            1 Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa)

            1 Red Oak (Quercus ruba)

            1 River Birch (Betula nigra)

            1 Sargent Crabapple (Malus sargentii)

            1 Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

            1 Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum)

I soak the unpacked trees in a bucket of water overnight and then plant each one in its own pot. I put the pots in my garden near the hose for easy watering throughout the summer. You can plant the little cuttings directly in the ground where you want them to grow, but you run the risk of rabbits nibbling or the weed-wacker cutting them. I find that this system of potting them up first works very well.

After the summer in the garden, I take the pots in the late fall and sink them into my vegetable garden for the winter. Depending on how big they grow, they remain in the vegetable garden for usually two years. Once the trees are growing well and starting to get too big for their pots, we transplant them into their permanent place to grow.  A number of the trees are planted near each other which I hope will form small bird sanctuaries on our property. I have hardly ever lost one of the little trees once they have matured and I have often wondered if it is due to their arriving at such a young age that they become acclimated to the Fishers Island environment far better than larger trees brought here from a nursery. The only downside is that they take a number of years to reach maturity, so my grandchildren and the birds will probably get to enjoy them for many more years than I. But it is fun… and rewarding to give trees a good start.

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