The Arbor Day Tree Project

     The National Arbor Day Foundation welcomes new members with a gift of ten tiny rooted twigs, and instructions on how to plant them so they can grow into nice big trees [Link]. The twigs are remarkably unimpressive when they arrive, naked and dormant, with a few scraggly roots set in a mushy protective gel. Ten of these proto-trees came into my life by accident as a duplicate set, and having no time to give to them right away, I performed the "heeling in" maneuver that was recommended in the pamphlet. This involved digging a wedge-shaped hole and setting them all in a short row, at about a 45-degree angle. Having accomplished this, I promptly forgot about them in the dreary excitement of the spring that brought New England The Floods of '06

     When I finally went back to look (about three weeks later), lo and behold, a few of the twigs had sprouted tiny leaves! With mingled enthusiasm and dread, I transplanted them all to small pots so I could move them around if they survived and expanded, and thus began a sequence of three pottings (into progressively larger pots) that lasted about 6 weeks. If you'll do the math, you will appreciate that the baby trees were growing by leaves and boughs!

     The treelings are now relatively huge and sturdy, having survived a few more brutal storms and ordinary dousings, while I tagged along with string and sticks, shoring them up as best I knew how. They are pictured below in their current splendor, as of July 18, 2006. Go trees, go! I will try to update this page with new photos as the summer rolls along. They are slated to go into the ground mid-September.


     Clockwise from bottom left, they are: Crabapple, Crape Myrtle, Golden Rain, Washington Hawthorn, American Redbud (half visible), White Flowering Dogwood, American Redbud, and a twig that didn't grow yet. From this twig you can see the original size and state of the other treelets! The Crape Myrtle, which should be a shrub rather than a tree, is the fastest grower - but it is also at the top north of its comfortable geographical range, and would probably be happier down in Georgia. In other words, it may not have a very nice winter. 

Trees in the ground September 9, 2006

Golden Raintree

American Redbud I

The rest of the trees are not yet too photogenic, as they disappear against the background of their verdant world. Stay tuned for more portraits!

American Redbud II, RIP. Mown down in its youth by the mower, 9/26/06.

Golden Raintree Burgeoning - 10/2/06

American Redbud I Reaches Skyward - 10/2/06

Washington Hawthorn Goes for Broke - 10/2/06

Crape Myrtle Camouflaged in Pachysandra Bed - 10/2/06
(End of highest branch is just below photo edge top left!)

Update - October 25, 2007: The winter of '06-'07 was very hard on the newbie trees, most of which perished outright. Experts and amateurs alike concur that this was due at least in part to the hard late freeze that also deep-sixed the septic system! Fast-forward through the past summer, and we are left with one survivor - a hardy crabapple that is still going strong. 

Crabapple flourishing! Those two vertical branches join a few
inches from the ground. This is now a fully viable treelet.

Lucyria Gallery