Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘transplanting trees

Flash Gorgeous

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Why “Flash Gorgeous?” I saw a portion of a program on climate change last night, talking about the increasing incidents of flash flooding erupting out of our periodic thunderstorms. Yesterday’s weather was the opposite of a flash flood so I thought of flipping convention and describing the incredibly gorgeous day using a term we usually associate with the blast of a weather disaster.

We enjoyed a day-long flash of spectacular weather for working on projects outdoors. I cranked up the power trimmer and focused on cutting tall grass growing on both sides of the fence segments of the round pen and along the border of the back pasture that I mowed on Wednesday.

The air was as fresh and comfortable as ever and allowed for sweat-free exertion which is a rarity for the type of work I was doing under the high-angled sun.

Speaking of fresh, Delilah came home from a grooming appointment smelling so sweet and clean I almost didn’t want to let her outside again, where she tends to seek out the nastiest smells and then rolls in them.

The views during our treks through the woods are quickly growing shorter and shorter because of all the leaves that have burst forth in the last ten days. It really changes our woods dramatically during the peak of transitioning between the extremes of summer and winter.

One disadvantage of Cyndie and me getting away from home over our extended Memorial Day weekend is that transplanted trees didn’t get regular watering and they all looked really sad as a result. Time will tell if better attention now can prevent the loss of the mix of oak and maples we moved to a line just outside the paddock fences.

It makes me even more pleased to have also found a few saplings we could nurture right where they sprouted and not deal with the risks of transplanting. They haven’t suffered a bit since we last checked on them.

Maybe we will end up with a “flash-Forest” one of these days. I prefer looking for flashes of brilliant positives instead of the typical flash-flood of extreme weather disasters being visited upon us with ever-increasing intensities.

Give somebody a dose of “flash-friendliness” if you find an opportunity today. Happy Friday!



Written by johnwhays

June 3, 2022 at 6:00 am

New Idea

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Every spring we discover so many unexpected sprouts of new maple and oak trees in places where they can’t be allowed to remain and every year we talk about transplanting a select few instead of just cutting them all down. Most often, time passes before we get around to taking appropriate action.

Last year we made a rather late-season attempt to transplant a maple and a pine and both failed miserably. With hope springing eternal, I spontaneously pulled up a young oak sapling on Saturday and moved it to the spot where last year’s pine attempt had been located.

Without knowing if that would even succeed, both Cyndie and I were inspired to make more attempts, so yesterday we suddenly set about moving both oaks and maples to the fence line beyond the paddocks where we have long dreamed of adding shade trees.

This is the same place we tried planting many acorns a couple years ago to avoid needing to transplant but not a single one sprouted. Alas, we are back to transplanting, but this time with a new idea for a compensation-in-advance in case none of the relocated trees survive the shock of being moved.

For every tree we attempt to transplant, we have vowed to find a different sapling that happens to have sprouted in an acceptable location and give equal nurturing attention to encourage robust growth right where it started. Without any disruption to the roots, logic dictates we should have a high percentage of success in these cases.

I’m considering them a backup plan to assuage my grief any time one of the transplanted trees don’t survive the shock of being moved.

The effort is minimal and primarily involves cutting away all surrounding competitors to the saplings we select. It’s not that different from what we are doing on a much larger scale to clear out competition beneath the towering mature oak trees in our woods.

With the saplings, we add a step of providing woodchip mulch around them to discourage competing weeds or grasses and also slow the surrounding soil from drying out.

It’s a good exercise for me to learn better acceptance of culling some young trees guilt-free with an eye toward the bigger goal of improving the healthy growth of sprouts that showed up where they are wanted and there will be room to flourish.



Written by johnwhays

May 23, 2022 at 6:00 am

Divided Passions

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I am torn between two worlds this morning. As thrilled as I am to be able to spend the next four days up at the lake for the Memorial Day weekend, I’m struggling over a great desire to remain home to tend the property, grow our bonds with the horses, and work on transitioning our chicks from the brooder to the coop.

When I got home from work yesterday, we decided to take advantage of the wet weather to transplant another pine tree. This one had sprouted just beyond the deck in a spot where there was little room for future growth. While we were pulling up the roots, Cyndie also extracted a fair-sized maple sapling, so we transplanted that, as well.

They are both visible in the image above, despite also being mostly obscured by a similar colored background. Our spontaneous decision to jump into the unplanned project swallowed up over an hour of time that felt like mere minutes had passed. Completing the transplants fueled a strong urge to get right back outside managing the explosion of growth everywhere on our property.

It will need to wait for another day. We are headed north this morning. Lake place, here we come! It’s been far too long between visits.

I hope the chicks won’t miss us too much.

We looked in on the Rockettes last night before bed and found them looking hale and hearty. Their wing feathers are coming along nicely. They are doing a fair amount of my favorite chick leg-stretch/wing-stretch maneuvers that look so yoga-like. Cyndie added a cover grate to their tub to keep the little test-flyers within the confines of the bin.

We want to move them to the big brooder in the barn as soon as we can move the Buffalo Gals to the coop. I expect that will be a project for when we get home on Monday.

Our current animal-sitter, Anna, a student in her last year at UW River Falls, will be tending to animals while we are gone.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be gung-ho about being away as soon as we hit the road, but I am definitely torn about wanting to be in both places at the same time. Too bad we can’t bring some chicks with us to the lake.

They’re just so cyoooooouute!

Go to the lake, John.

Okay, okay. B’bye!

Oh, and bring back more trillium when you return…



Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2021 at 6:00 am

Most Rewarding

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Planting trees is one of my favorite accomplishments. Yesterday, we transplanted a young pine tree that had unexpectedly sprouted near our front walkway where it had no room to grow into a full-size tree. There was a spot down by the driveway near the road where I had just removed a dead tree, so we chose that spot for the relocation.

This is another of the two-for-one tasks I am most fond of because we have removed a tree from a spot where it didn’t belong and we gained a new tree in a location that had just lost one.

Instead of both areas nagging at me every time I pass by them, each one now brings me new satisfaction.

Doubly rewarding!

Especially since the raccoon that I tried to chase from the tree out our front door reappeared Saturday evening. Two steps forward, one step back.



Written by johnwhays

May 10, 2021 at 6:00 am

Three Trees

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Cyndie sent me this image yesterday and what caught my eye was the combination of three of the trees we have planted in our time here were all in the frame.

On the left is a crab apple in blossom.

On the right is a hydrangea that Cyndie planted beside her labyrinth. When we moved the gazebo last year, that tree needed to be relocated to the opposite perimeter.

In the background is a maple that we moved from beneath one of our big old maples a short distance away to the east. That little maple offspring is now all by itself in the center of the labyrinth.

All three trees have gone through a lot in these new locations. The hydrangea is showing some green this spring, but we think it is a last gasp before the end. We were thrilled to see it didn’t appear to look shocked after the last transplantation, but then, later in the summer, a limb dropped off and revealed a spongy wound that showed little sign of healthy life.

I didn’t expect to see any leaves this spring, so what did sprout has me curious to see what another year might bring.

The most rewarding of the three is that maple. It was our fourth try to get a maple of that size to survive the trauma of the move to the middle of the labyrinth. I like to imagine what it will look like in a hundred years when it towers over the circuitous garden.

I hope to live long enough to see what a 20-year-old tree looks like in the labyrinth.

In the meantime, we are thoroughly enjoying all of them, just the way they are each day.



Written by johnwhays

May 26, 2020 at 6:00 am

Final Touches

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With the big job of moving the gazebo done, thanks to our kids’ help, Cyndie and I made some final tweaks yesterday to complete the new setup. As so often occurs, a plan with one thing in mind expands to several others that need to happen first, to reach the ultimate goal.

Our main objectives were to level the base beneath the bench seat and move the hydrangea tree by transplanting it to a different spot around the labyrinth. We quickly agreed that the place where we put a gracefully rotating section of a tree trunk to stand as a visual attraction would be ideal for the hydrangea.

That old trunk was starting to disintegrate anyway, under the combined pressure of many woodpeckers and natural decay. When we struggled to pick it up, we discovered it hadn’t lost as much mass as appearance led us to suspect, but it looked beat up enough that we didn’t feel bad booting it from its prominent spot.

In the image above, you can see the trunk is now farther out on the left. The hydrangea tree is front and center, garnished with a fresh mulch of wood chips I made on Friday.

Before we transplanted the tree, we wanted to have water available, so I needed to get a hose and turn on the spigot up at the house. That required that the four-way splitter that was removed from the spigot last fall needed to be found. I’m sure we thought we were being obvious when we stowed it away eight months ago.

I was proud of myself when I remembered to grab a level for the bench at the same time I was retrieving a hose from the shop garage. Unfortunately, I needed to send Cyndie back up to find the hose splitter for the spigot.

While she was gone, I trimmed the golden weigela bushes that were on either side of the bench, and now being crowded by the gazebo.

Relocating the hydrangea tree was the most rewarding, as that completely opened up the primary access to the gazebo and bench, which also just happens to serve as an archway entrance to one of our trails into the woods.

It looks odd to no longer see the gazebo in its old spot above the round pen, but we are very happy with the new location beside the labyrinth where it is bound to get much more use.

In addition, this opens up the old spot to easier cutting and raking for hay. We have connected with neighbors who were thrilled with the opportunity to cut and bale our fields for their growing herd of llamas. For a while there, we were a little worried that all the effort we had put into improving our fields would be lost if the weeds were given a chance to return unchallenged.



Written by johnwhays

June 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Early Success

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Part of me is hesitant to claim success about a recent transplanted tree, well, trees, but we have decided to enjoy it while it lasts. The truth really won’t be revealed until next summer, as to whether the four oaks we hastily decided to dig up and move out in the open field beyond the paddock ultimately survive the transplantation.

In the weeks since we moved them, these four oak trees have barely showed a symptom of shock. Now they are displaying the best of fall color, just as if nothing had happened to disrupt normal routine.

I don’t know if this apparent good health is a valid indicator of the overall success of our bold plan. I am prepared to discover otherwise next spring, but for now, we are tickled to see the normal fall behavior playing out.

If these work out, I will definitely be emboldened to do more of this to expand the range of oak trees on our property in the years ahead. There are so many little volunteer sprouts that show up every spring where they aren’t wanted or can’t be allowed to grow to maturity, we always have many opportunities from which to choose.

It is part of a long game, dreaming someday of tall trees that will provide natural cooling shade under which our horses can benefit.

It all starts with acorns and involves a little effort to nurture young trees in new locations.

Here’s hoping for success.



Written by johnwhays

October 14, 2018 at 9:59 am

Rock Work

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Yesterday was one of those days when the things we thought we might do when we talked about it at breakfast, ended up being different than what we chose to do after stepping out into the day. It was funny that both Cyndie and I lobbied for a refocus to something different.

I wanted to do some rock work and she wanted to transplant some trees.

We started out by the road where the recent tree clearing by the township maintenance crew had uncovered an old rock pile and decaying fence post that marked our property boundary. I wanted to stack a cairn of stones to more purposefully indicate the spot.

We also dug up a couple of rocks that were pushing their way above ground enough to become a nuisance when mowing. What do I do with extra rocks? Find somewhere to balance them.

I picked Cyndie’s perennial garden.

We moved from there to transplanting volunteer oak trees from places they shouldn’t be to just outside the fence line of the paddock. If they take, the ultimate goal would be for them to provide natural shade for the horses. It’ll take a year to see if they survive the shock we put them through today, but it will take a lot of years to become tall enough to offer real shade.

I’m honestly skeptical about the chances, but if we never try, we’ll never have even a possibility.

The biggest hurdle is the soil. The trees were extricated from sandy soil at the high point of our property and replanted into heavy clay soil by the drainage ditch that crosses our back field.

Time will tell.

Maybe I should think about stacking rocks to make a wall high enough to offer shade. It would probably take as much time as growing trees, but the odds of success are probably better.



Written by johnwhays

September 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Spontaneous Transplantation

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Last night presented one of those moments that would unfold without us having a clue where it would ultimately lead. Thankfully, due to Cyndie’s willingness to run with it, we took a step that was long overdue.

She transplanted some volunteer sprouts of oak and maple trees.

It started with her walking the dog and me doing some work in the shop. I had the door open and some music playing. Suddenly, Delilah popped in to say hello. Cyndie paused to trim some growth around the vicinity.

While pulling weeds, she discovered the saturated ground made it easy to pull out the new tree sprouts.

We’ve been talking about transplanting trees for weeks, but never really formulated a plan on where they would go when we finally take action. Since she now had a stack of multiple beauties fresh out of the ground, it presented an urgency to decide on a new location for them.

I honestly have no idea why I didn’t come up with this before, but it hit me in an instant that planting them just outside the paddock fence would someday offer a natural shade for the horses inside the fence.

So, that’s what Cyndie did.

It will require some care to give these babies a fair chance at survival, but given the vast number of new sprouts showing up every spring, we will always have plenty of opportunities to try again, in case of any failures.

This is another thing that I would love to have done years ago, to have already taken advantage of that time for growth. The shade I’m looking forward to could be a decade away, to get the trees tall enough and filled out enough to cast a useful shadow.

It’s like our story about growing our own asparagus. People told us that it takes at least three years after planting to start harvesting stalks. For some silly reason, that information repeatedly caused us to not take action. Inexplicably, our response to something that required waiting a significant amount of time for results was to do nothing. Over and over again.

After three years, I mentioned that if we had just planted some when we first talked about the possibility, we could be harvesting already.

Then Cyndie came across the brilliant idea of not planting from seed, but buying a 2-year-old plant and burying it in the ground.

We are learning to get out of our own way.

In this regard, the spontaneity becomes our secret weapon. We will always get more progress if we just do it, and not wait for the “perfect” plan. We need to not worry so much about the possibility of failure.

My old mode of thinking involved not wanting to work hard on planting trees if they are just going to die, but I’m getting over that now. Maybe the four tries to succeed in the center of our labyrinth have softened my resistance.

We transplanted this group yesterday without any planning or preparation.

I have no idea what the result will be, but at least we have taken the required first step, thanks to Cyndie’s adventurous spontaneous effort.



Trying Again

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Despite a strong inclination I have had to just shut up about the tree transplanting —at least until we finally meet with success in this one particular spot— I can’t stop myself from reporting the story. We have waited for most of the summer to pull out the previous dead tree from the center of the labyrinth, even though it was long ago obvious it hadn’t survived.dscn5387e

There was no hurry, because our plan for the next attempt was to wait until the trees drop their leaves before trying again.

The trees have dropped their leaves.

Earlier in the summer, when we knew we would need to try again, I searched through the saplings beneath the magnificent maple tree that has been my inspiration all along. I like envisioning what one of the offspring of that beauty will look like in the middle of the labyrinth garden when it reaches the same maturity of years.

I selected and marked a tree that I liked. Then we waited.

Yesterday was the day we picked to execute our fourth try at transplanting one of our maple trees to the center of the labyrinth. Cyndie dug out the hole in preparation and when I got home from work, we set about the challenging task of extricating our selection from the spot where it originated.

dscn5388eIt didn’t want to come out easily.

With daylight fading, we finally wrested our new hope from the earth’s grasp. Using a wheelbarrow, we transported the tree to the labyrinth and slid it into the hole.

With all the tender loving care we could muster, we prepared the new home for this tree. Now we wait. Nature needs to do the rest.

And if it doesn’t take, I’m just going to keep trying, all the while debating whether I will do so covertly, or choose to continue chronicling the possible repetition of failures.













Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2016 at 6:00 am