Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘transplanting trees

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

November 3, 2016 at 6:00 am

No Fish

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One of the things that seems so sad about the failure of our 3rd transplanted maple tree in the labyrinth is how many hundreds of volunteer maples are sprouting in unwanted locations around our house and yard. A less stubborn (and probably smarter) person would likely make the obvious choice of moving one of these hearty little yearlings to the center of the garden, but not me.

I have been bound and determined to get a head start on a future giant center piece for our labyrinth by planting a tree taller than me with an already good-looking crown of leaves. When Cyndie suggested buying a tree with an established root-ball, I countered that I preferred one from our property, and each time my attempt fails, I am going to pick an even taller one next, to make up for lost progress.

If necessary, in a few years I will hire a truck with a giant conical tree spade to dig up a 10-year-old beauty, I’ll dismantle rock paths to make room for it to back into the center of the garden, and they can plop down a transplant that won’t dare fail.

I’m finding that it might be easier to replace rocks for the labyrinth path than get a tree to survive being transplanted to the middle.

A few days ago, a person who shall remain nameless, to protect their anonymity, dropped off a small fish for our landscape pond. Cyndie learned about it after dark, and went out with a flashlight to check. Yep, she confirmed, there was a fish swimming in our pond.

That’s the last time the fish was seen. I wouldn’t have been surprised to learn it didn’t adjust to the move, if we had found it floating days later. I never suspected it wouldn’t survive the first night and would disappear without a trace. Did a predator —probably raccoon— really find and dispatch it that swiftly?

IMG_iP1366eMaybe it is just hiding really well, like the hidden growth of roots on the transplanted tree. Maybe the tree isn’t actually dead. It might just be taking a year off to develop roots, instead of sprouting leaves.

On Monday, I went to see a home game of the MLB Twins at Target Field with Rich, Jill, and Bob. It’s not a good sign that my only photo taken that night was of the giant display screen blazing the weather radar as the PA voice announced the game was being postponed.

I’m experiencing a trend. No tree, no fish, no baseball.

One of these tomorrows, I sure hope that sun comes out, and soon!

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Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2016 at 6:00 am

Third Try

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I have not been mentioning the sad lack of progress toward my dream of having a transplanted maple tree growing in the center of our labyrinth, in large part because I’m choosing to avoid framing the previous two tries as failures. Basically, if I don’t talk about them or write about them, it becomes as though they didn’t exist.

However, failure is what happened, and I am obviously now writing about it, so it is not as though I mean to pretend it didn’t occur. I just haven’t been dwelling on it publicly. The attempt we made last year involved pulling a tree up by the roots and transplanting it “bare-root” to the hole in the center of the labyrinth. The shock of the transplant caused it to lose all its leaves, but before the summer was over, it had sprouted new leaves.

I’m not sure what went wrong, but after a while the new leaves drooped and then shriveled, and I figured we lost it. I held off on ripping it out of the ground last fall in the off-hand chance all the energy was being put into the roots so it could sprout leaves this spring in a return to the normal seasonal pattern.

That didn’t happen.

When I was mowing the labyrinth last Friday, I spotted the bark on the trunk was dried out and split open. Snapping off the end of a branch confirmed it was all dried out. No visible signs of life at all. I yanked the tree out.

DSCN3406eLast fall, in preparation for the possibility I would need to try again —and while the trees still had leaves— I located another tree I liked in our woods. Following advice I received from my helpful landscape adviser, I flagged it for future reference. Yesterday we dug it up and transplanted it, taking as much dirt around it as we could in hopes of keeping as many of the small roots intact as possible.

So, number three is now in place at the center of the labyrinth garden.

I have a plan to bury a water line from the house down to the garden, where I will install a valve and a hose spigot. The length of tubing required was not stocked at the store, so I had to order it. I sure hope it comes soon, so I don’t have to lug a half-dozen hoses out on the hill to string together like we’ve done for the last two years.

I’d like the third time to be the charm, so I certainly don’t want the poor thing to go thirsty for any length of time. It’s feeling too dry around here already this spring, which is a sad problem to have since our main complaint for the two previous years has been that this time of year had been way too wet.

Thunderstorms rolled through last night, but we barely received a measurable amount of water in our rain gauge. It’s going to take more than that to satisfy all the growing things currently sprouting forth with gusto, reaching toward the sun.

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Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2015 at 6:00 am