Last year, after our first year of trying to raise a sequoia failed, my son, Nathanial, purchased five more trees (cypresses, redwoods, and a sequoia) for us to be responsible for. (See the September 16, 2016, blog, “Adopted Trees Take on Personalities”.) The weight of such responsibility can weigh heavy with life and death questions on one’s mind.
I’ve become consumed with dirt checking and bucket lugging. I’ve gotten so nutty about this responsibility that I watch the weather for lows and lug these heavy containers around so they won’t freeze to death. For the record, they are very heavy in their pots for a weakling such as I am. Over the last year, all five were repotted a few times to make sure they weren’t root bound.
Well, now it has been a year since the trees arrived via the mail on our doorstep, and I’ve been caring for them ever since, making sure to do my best for their survival. It appears that all have survived so I wanted to share an update. One tree, Swifty T, a coast redwood, appears to be on the line; however, but we’re pulling for her. She may have gotten frozen when it dipped in temperatures a few weeks ago, and I mistakenly thought she’d be okay.
Katniss Evergreen, a dawn redwood, is healthy with pretty branches of green. (See picture of her with Swifty T.) I’m still responsible for Katniss and Swifty, but Steve 2.0, the giant sequoia, lives on Nathanial’s apartment deck (in warm weather). Steve 2.0 enjoyed being decorated with tiny ornaments over Christmas. He seems acclimated to “city” living.
After much thought and consideration, the cypresses were planted in a nice wet area, which should make excellent homes for our beloved Dave and Spruce Willis. On Saturday, April 8, late in the afternoon, we tromped through my dad’s pasture scouting for a wet place to plant Dave, a bald cypress, and Spruce Willis, a Montezuma cypress. There is a swampy area near the pasture, and it is our understanding that cypresses usually live in swamps. We hope that they will survive and grow. Whether they will reach their tallest, we won’t live to see, as they can live to be 600 years old and 120-140 feet or more tall. We don’t know how Midwest winters will affect a tree that usually grows in warmer climates, but we’ve done our best for them. Dave is a native to Texas and Mexico. He doesn’t have knees. Spruce Willis is native to Louisiana, to the Mid-Atlantic States, and to the Mississippi River Basin. His kind of cypress has knees.
Nathanial will decide where Steve 2.0, Katniss, and Swifty will go some day. After all they will be twice as tall as the cypresses. They will need to be planted in an open area away from wells, septic tanks, underground wires, and lots of houses. When I think of redwoods and sequoias, I think of California. We can’t plant them there though because then we’ll never get to visit them.
We’ve become obsessed about non-native trees surviving here. We won’t even be alive when they are so great and tall. Still, it’s personal. We named them. They are part of the family, even if they are silent. We want to watch them grow throughout our lives. Because we want them to live, it means making sure that when they are planted they are placed in a suitable spot. It’s hard trying to be responsible tree parents.
Have you ever tried growing a cypress, sequoia, or redwood? What’s your favorite tree?