02 March 2011

The Man Who Planted Trees

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now." ~ Chinese Proverb

When we first moved out here to the flats, one of our immediate goals was to save the existing trees on the property. The house had been empty for a year or longer, and lack of water left many of the trees seriously stressed during several years of drought. So we pruned and watered and coaxed and were able to save the lilac bushes in front as well as an old poplar, to name a few.

We also planted trees and bushes we favored, like the cedars bordering the driveway, which are now 4-5 feet high, and a lovely cotton-less Cottonwood, for it's soothing rustle in a summer breeze. It's a marvelous sound to sleep by! That tree can now be seen from the backside of the house over the rooftop, it's grown so tall. Probably not the best choice for this water-thirsty area unless they're part of a gray-water system, the house needed a tree there and these happen to be one of my favorites, so we bought a 5-foot baby, and delighted in watching it shoot skyward over a few years.

The landscaped area we call Leona's Garden (there's Mick working on the urbanite wall) for the woman who inspired it, has developed nicely in just five years, and is backed by the neighbor's windbreak, as well as a large and unidentified tree I call The Old Dame. That's the tallest tree you see at right. Before I leave here, I'm going to identify what she is. No one seems to know.

Leona's Garden two years ago
The bare beginnings -Leona's Garden five years ago
You can see the developing Leona's Garden, with various Evergreens, a Russian Olive (which is a designated invasive tree here), rose bushes, and assorted peach and apricot trees I plant with relentless enthusiasm every time the fruit passes my lips. Last summer the pampas grass stand finally shot into the air like a fountain, and has been quite the dramatic sight all winter.

There are lots of Dutch elms on this property, the weed trees that proliferate without much coaxing, but have been virtually demolished by Dutch Elm disease over recent decades. I rather like them, and in this stretch of barren land, I appreciate their visual relief. We've lost one of the huge sisters, and it looks like the other on the south side of the house will die soon from elm beetle infestation. I hate to see an old tree like this die, but you can see the wound and seepage by the stain on this snow.

We'll have to cut her down later in the Spring. The thought makes me cringe. The only consolation is that it will make room for dreaming about a greenhouse addition to the side of the south side of the house. If we were planning to stay here, which we're not. But still... a girl can dream, right? A greenhouse would just be so handy right now for starting seeds and pretending Spring had really sprung.

Time flies when you're gardening, that's for sure. Were it not for the space we've created here, I probably wouldn't/couldn't have stayed this long. I need green and beauty to survive! So we've created it - by planting trees and other good things.

For an inspirational novel about the topic, read The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono.
Temps: 55/25 but with a brisk and cold wind - didn't feel this warm at all
Writing: Blog posts

Highlights of the day: A great batch of chili by M., I made a nice pound of mozarella,  and baked a loaf of whole wheat bread that was also perfection. Lent starts next week so I'm indulging in the kitchen. I'm giving up flour, sugar, and white meat. I don't eat enough red meat to sacrifice it and feel like I'm actually doing anything worthwhile. But the carbs - that could be a challenge. So 40 days and nights of dairy, eggs, cheese, and vegetables.

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