Our Gift to the Future
I've never been lucky with trees; and I don't just mean the time when I fell over a tree stump and broke my arm as a child at primary school.
What I'm talking about is growing them.
When I was a child, I planted an acorn in the family garden and, much to my surprise, it grew into handsome little oak tree (probably Quercus robur) – eventually reaching about 2 to 3 feet tall. It was my pride and joy. My father 'accidentally' cut it down, so it died. Imagine how large and majestic it would look now, more than 60 years later. How sad to have lost it.
When I was much older, in 1976, I planted a lemon (or orange – I can't remember which) seed in a pot and, much to my surprise, it grew into a handsome little citrus tree – eventually reaching about 5 feet tall. It was my pride and joy. My then wife 'accidentally' stopped watering it whilst I was away at sea, so it died. Imagine how large and majestic it would look now, more than 40 years later. How sad to have lost it.
In about 1985, I was given a pair of handsome little eucalyptus trees (Eucalyptus gunnii) which I planted in the garden. They were my pride and joy. Much to my surprise, they died. Imagine how large and majestic they would look now, more than 35 years later. How sad to have lost them.
A couple of years ago, in 2018, I purchased two saplings of hardy olive trees (Olea europaea), which I planted in pots in the garden and, much to my surprise, they are both growing into handsome little olive trees and have reached about 5 feet tall.
They are my pride and joy. I wonder how long it will be before they die; or will they live to become large and majestic trees in 60 years time. The photograph on the right was taken on 23 June 2020.
Last autumn (2019) I gathered some 'conkers' (seeds) from the graveyard where my daughter, Annelise, is buried, which I planted in pots in the garden and, much to my surprise, eight of them are growing into handsome little horse chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum).
They are my pride and joy. I wonder how long it will be before they die; or will they live to become large and majestic trees in 60 years time.
It might seem shocking to read that only perhaps one seedling in a thousand survives the first perilous year of life, and only one in ten thousand lives long enough to bear seed (Herbert L Edlin: Trees, Woods and Man).
Next autumn, I'm going to gather as many seeds as I can from a variety of trees which I will plant in pots in the garden and where, much to my surprise, some of them will grow into handsome little trees that will be my pride and joy. Maybe some of them won't die and will grow into large majestic trees which will outlive me. Maybe someone will remember me when I've long since gone as being the one who got these trees started in life. Trees that will live for hundreds of years, maybe even thousands of years in the case of my olive trees and some other species. Just think, some of the trees we have in the world today started their life before the ancient Egyptian pyramids were built. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could leave something behind after we're gone that would be alive and admired in thousands of years' time?
Trees are something we usually take for granted. We walk past them every day without really looking at them or giving them any value in our hearts. This spring, in particular, I've often been for a walk with our lovely dog and have been astonished by the sheer variety of trees there are even in our nearby locality. We shouldn't take trees for granted as the world needs trees now more than ever as so many are being destroyed because of mans need (or greed) for wood. Huge forests have already been destroyed and we need billions of trees to be planted to help recover some of the huge areas that have been lost to deforestation.
Maybe you can grow some trees too. If you plant enough seeds, some of them will grow into handsome little trees that will become large majestic trees that will be the pride and joy of those who follow us. They won't all die. Some are sure to live. And people in generations to come will thank us for planting them all those years ago. Wouldn't that be wonderful?
Imagine that you've planted a tree as a young person and return to the site where you planted it out maybe 50 or 60 years later. How would feel when you saw the magnificent tree standing tall and proud grown from a seed you planted all those years before? Imagine how you would feel if you'd managed to sow, and plant out, 1000 trees during your lifetime - or even more than that. That is by no means an impossibilty to accomplish.
UPDATE: 23 June 2020
These are the trees today.
You will notice that there are two of the eight missing. This is because today, shortly before this photograph was taken, the two best trees went off to new homes in a large garden. GREAT!
Over the last few days, when we've taken Kanga out for her evening walk, we've passed by some cherry trees and sampled the fruit. Really delicious!
So, I collected the seeds and this morning planted 21 of them into little pots. I wonder how long it will be before they die; or will they live to become large cherry trees producing lovely sweet cherries in the future.
If you'd like to find out more about trees, particularly in the UK, Europe and the USA, I recommend the books written by Herbert L Edlin, in particular:
The Tree Key - ISBN-10: 0723220956 and ISBN-13: 978-0723220954 - F. Warne Publishers Ltd (1978)
Collins Guide to Tree Planting and Cultivation - ISBN-10: 0002191598 and ISBN-13: 978-0002191593 - HarperCollins Distribution Services (1973-1975).
Trees, Woods and Man - ISBN 0002195313 - Collins New Naturalist Series 1956 to 1978.
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