Maybe it’s because I grew up in central Alaska where permafrost kept the trees dwarfed. Or maybe it’s because my next stop was California’s redwood empire. For whatever reason, though I grow a mean veggie garden and a wide and wild mix of flowers, trees are my first love. That’s also made them my garden specialty.
The Magic of Trees
In fairytales, trees are often things of magic, good magic. And it’s always seemed that way to me. Every element of a tree’s existence seems improbable, highly unlikely, starting with how high they rise from a small seed. Think of California’s coast redwoods, the tallest trees on earth, that grow from a seed smaller than a grain of rice. Think of how they “hold hands” under the soil, linking roots and sharing nutrients.
Then there’s the internal tree mechanisms that carry water and nutrients up the trunk and into the leaves where it participates in another miraculous procedure, photosynthesis, creating energy from sunshine, air and water. I understand that flowers and shrubs perform the same photosynthesis, but somehow it seems especially impressive way up there in the clouds.
The Longevity of Trees
Do you ever wonder, as you are fertilizing your tomato plant, about whether all the work is worth it for a plant that won’t last the year? Yes, of course, the tomatoes make it worthwhile, but I get attached to plants, I talk to them, I feel close to them. It’s hard when they die back so soon.
Trees, on the other hand, can live as long as a person, and even longer, if planted in an appropriate location. I planted a little red oak tree seedling in my backyard in France 20 years ago. I named it Rubio. I staked it so it could withstand the winter winds, watered it the first years until its root system was developed.
Over the years, I have watched Rubio grow into a tall, strong and beautiful tree. Birds build nests in its branches. I picnic in summers beneath its canopy. It is a friend for a lifetime.
The Variety of Trees
Then there is the vast variety of trees on the planet, each adapted to its own native clime. Palm trees sway in the tropics, evergreen forests fill with snow, bald cypress thrive in the Everglade swamps.
Each type of tree has its own secrets and its own beauty. I love them all and never tire of learning more about them.