Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Talking to Trees

Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, "Grow...grow." -- Talmud

I found myself doing just that bright and early this morning as I made a post-rainstorm inspection of our yard and the many seedlings I"ve been planting this spring.

This is part of what I call Project Bee Here Now: Enhancing the bee-sustainability of our property by planting species favored by honeybees for nectar and pollen. Yes, this is a long-haul project. (As we noted ruefully today, with the economy the way it is we may as well invest in the maintenance and aesthetics of our home, because people aren't exactly burning asphalt to relocate to our little burg.)

For the last two months I've scoured online nursery catalogs, extension-office tree-sale lists and other sources for inexpensive bee-friendly trees and shrubs. And I've purchased some: red osier dogwood; redbuds; basswood; ninebark; sumac; elderberry; buttonbush; highbush cranberry; winterberry, aka Michigan holly. Most of them have gone around the periphery of our yard or our backyard pond.

It's been very rewarding to watch the very unimpressive bare twigs of these seedlings suddenly sprout little green leaflets. But the holly -- a deciduous species, fairly common here in wetland areas and  much beloved for its prolific orange-red berries in the wintertime -- has been a tough case.

I planted the hollies in a  humus-y raised semicircular bed at the margin of our woods -- a neglected spot in the yard that until recently had been home to a few half-dead rhododendrons and a burgeoning colony of poison ivy. Those are gone now, after much effort, replaced by the hollies, a pair of pieris shrubs and some wildflowers; and for the past month I've been silently willing the leaves of the wispy holly twigs to emerge.

"Come on...grow," I'd wish each morning, staring disappointedly at the bare seedlings. "All the other seedlings are growing -- even the buttonbushes I stuck right in the pondwater. You're slacking off here. Grow. Please."

Then last week, after being awakened in the wee hours by our bored dog more interested in an outdoor romp than a morning constitutional, I trudged to the forlorn holly bed, expecting to be disappointed again and wondering what I might plant there instead. I focused my sleep-bleary eyes at a holly twig.

A tiny green leaf was protruding from the end.


In the days to follow, four of the six seedlings have shown signs of life; green buds or full-blown leaves. I thought the last two twigs looked somehow bumpier today, but that might just be wishful thinking.


LoieJ said...

I'm going to have to ask my tree-planting significant other if he talks to his trees. I know he swears about the deer and rabbits eating them.

Trish said...

Your desire to draw bees reminded me of my childhood home. Before my parents ever bought the thing (back in '76 or so), there used to be a fruit cellar dug into the ground. Even though by the time the 'rents bought the property the fruit cellar was gone, it was still a place the bees liked. There were ALWAYS bees hanging around out there. Anyway, I know that this doesn't have much to do with your initial post. Sorry about that. But thanks for sparking the memory. Also, I hope you continue to be successful.