Monday, May 4, 2015

From a Seed

It's a surprising thing to live in a place long enough to actually grow trees from seeds, and see them mature.

My first "seed" tree is the yellow apple that has been providing us with bumper crops of apples for 30 years or more. It sprouted under the deck; we moved it to its present location, a little too close to the house still, but it does very well.

My second and third trees from seeds are the two silver maples that shade our house. I suppose technically the first one was not a seed tree, but it was a new sprout in a friend's yard, and he had tied it in a knot thinking that might kill it off. The tree continued to grow so we dug it up and moved it here. I was starving for shade at that time and it took only seven years for the tree to begin giving back with dense, cool shade. A seed from this tree took root in a flower bed, so we transplanted it about 24 years ago and it is as big now as the parent tree. While I worry during high winds that one or the other might topple on the house, the value they provide in cooling is worth a little worry.

There have been quite a few other seed trees here, mainly peaches. But the one I am happiest about is this one:

We had a redbud tree near the house and I loved that tree. So it upset me when I realized it was dying. I suppose there is some disease that attacks these trees, and it got mine. But a seed took root right by the walk to the cellar house top, and I begged Larry to let it grow. It wasn't in a good place but redbuds are not easy to transplant. I promised to keep it trained away from the walk, and I kept my promise. I trimmed low branches and for a few years had the tree tied to the cellar to keep it from leaning over the walk. This year I was repaid with beautiful blooms on the young tree--

and surprisingly, also on another seedling that spouted right where the old tree had been.

We've also been here long enough to say goodbye to a few old tree friends.

How time flies! Aaron is about 10 years older and 40 or more pounds lighter today
than when he cut the old tree for us. 
 The big oak by our parking place was probably dying when we moved here. We left it as long as possible but when a huge branch fell right where the car could have been we knew it was time to cut it down. I still miss that tree.
And the granddaughters pictured here--Hannah, first on the left, will be a senior in high school this year; Haley is in the Army National Guard; Allison graduates from high school this month, and Cassidy is living in Nashville, working as a songwriter. 
We've lost other trees too--an old-time apple that had been here since our neighbor was a boy, pines that toppled in the ice storm in 2003, and several peach trees. When we heated with wood we would go back into our big woods and cut some for firewood, trying to take only the dead or diseased specimens and leaving the good ones to grow.

There is something about living in a place surrounded by trees; they become part of our daily routine, an expected view from the windows, bearers of fruit and often makers of a lot of work in the fall of the year or after a big storm. I am happy to put up with the mess, though, just to have their leafy presence in my life.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Mac n' Janet said...

For a long time I didn't even know you could grow trees from seeds, other than acorns. But one summer we sat outside eating oranges and throwing the seeds on the ground. Next year we noticed an orange tree growing, it's quite large now. What a surprise.

Quinn said...

I've been in my place for about 30 years now, and I know what you mean...the new ones, the old ones, the ones that you suddenly discover that must have been growing quietly for a few years but were not seen until - surprise!
I have to ask though...did you take the knot out of that sprout? I've never heard of that method of discouraging a tree, but I wouldn't expect it to work anyway. And it seems kind of mean. But I suppose if a person is trying to kill a tree they are not thinking about being kind to it. And I would probably do *anything* (within organic reason) to kill oriental bittersweet!

Granny Sue said...

Janet, I never thought about it at all, so it was a surprise to find they could just grow!

Quinn, the knot had grown over so we left it. Now however it's a issue because of course that's where rot set in.

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