Little Trees


Update: I have just been informed this is not a pine tree, it is a white spruce tree, Picea glauca (Moench) Voss.

I am a tree lover. I could outdo an Elf from Tolkien’s Middle Earth in my love of trees. Tu B’Shevat is my absolute favourite holiday. I suspect my love of trees is because I am a prairie girl and trees are precious and few and far between. Our new stick house has a lot of trees. Most are not native and flowering (but without fruit) and they have been neglected. We are far enough north that most pretty decorative nursery trees do poorly. And not unexpectedly many of my nursery trees, especially the ones that some previous owner wanted to make into a hedge, have winter burn and insect damage and are doing poorly. As they inevitably die I intend to replace them with local native trees and shrubs like wood and prairie rose. Wild roses make lovely hedges.

Among the trees were twelve little local pine trees, either white or black pine, they are too young to tell. They were likely dug up from a ditch or railway right of way where they get mowed anyway. That is what the locals who want pine trees do. This kind of tree, once it takes off, is a hardy lovely majestic tree that towers high and sways gracefully. As a baby it is delicate and doesn’t like most places where it is transplanted. It can be easily killed by either flood or drought. These trees also require a commensal fungi without which they wither and die. The locals move a lot of baby trees before they get one established.

Most of my little trees were in fine health. I inspected them carefully, gave them some nice slow release tree food, told them how much I loved them and urged them to grow. One was covered in aphids being tended by ants. The one nearby was just started to be infected. Oh imagine the maternal rage as I hosed off the aphids attacking my poor green babies. Weekly inspections and more hosing have done the trick. Aphids are gone. Just let them try it again. Mom is on defence with her hose at the ready. One little tree was crooked, tilted over by about 30 degrees, A support, some twine and some digging and the wayward youngster is now set upright to grow as trees should. Two little pine trees were set in my garden. Now that is a good place for a baby tree in terms of being tended and loved but bad if you want to rototill in spring. I had decided to leave them for now and then move them at some undetermined later date.

There was one tree that was not doing well. I tried. I watered it, I added food, I begged it to grow. Nothing. All the other trees sprouted new buds, extended the new green tips, and grew and grew. This one remained stubbornly more brown than green and had no signs of life. No buds, no change, just increasing brown. Several times my husband said “That tree is dead!” but I refused to give up hope.

Today I gave up. With much regret I uprooted the poor dead thing and moved one of the garden trees into its place. I took the biggest ball of dirt I could manage so hopefully the required fungus will move it with it. Since I was already on a roll, I moved the other little garden tree into an empty space between two slowly dying nursery trees. I watered them both carefully, and made sure they were properly straight. I apologized for disturbing them and explained as best I could about rototillers. I hope they understand and choose to grow. I am too old to hope to see them in full adult glory but maybe someone else will one day enjoy them.


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