My Hobby, TREES

May 20, 2009

It’s not a very big thing.  At least not now, maybe in a hundred years or so.  I adore trees.  Native trees.  The Wife can vouch for me.  I was stratifying seeds in her refrigerator twenty years ago.  Then an entire fridge drawer filled with soil & seeds from November to April.  Of course the soil could not be used for stratification until  I sterilized it.  Into the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour.  Have you ever cooked dirt.  Guess what that smells like?  I did this each year for many years.  Now days I just keep a handful of seeds in the fridge if necessary.

Oh, and there were the flower boxes filled with hundreds of seedlings.  In the windows, all the windows, INSIDE the apartment from February on.  All trees never flowers.  Plus, there was only one table in the basement next to the washer & dryer.  It, of course, was used for my seed propagation chamber.  Laundry had to come upstairs to be folded.  All two flights.

That apartment and subsequent houses have many great trees in their yards.  Now I work on this house and it’s woods.

I know The Wife loves me, not because she puts up with me but because she hasn’t killed me, yet.  What a Doll!

These days I take it easy on her.  Stratifying, propagation, & first years growth all happen outside.  On her deck.  Hey! it’s some progress!  You wouldn’t want wee critters getting at my trees now would you?

Last year I collected about 1000 River Birch (Betula nigra) seeds and put them in a pot with soil.  Watered them every day and Got 30 plus trees out of it.  River Birch have notoriously poor germination.  All of which I planted out into my back woods where Winter snows brought down several weak trees.

Snow Lost Tree

Except for the smallest one which volunteered to be a off-center Bonsai.

Birch Bonsai

This year I’ve collected Sweet Birch (Betula lenta) & Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)

Sweet Birch

To date 13 have germinated.  If you click on the image below you can count their tiny little leaves.

Sweet Birch


I sowed several thousand and maybe a few hundred came up.


Sycamore becomes a very large tree.  I’ll plant them along side the creek down in the woods.  If I plant 50 maybe 10 will reach maturity.  I have no idea what to do with the rest.  I guess there may be several Drive-by-tree-plantings in peoples yards.  The local park needs some more trees I’ve heard.

I may only get a few dozen Sweet Birch.  All of them have homes out back.

I’ll hope to get some Yellow Birch (Betula Allegheniensis) this year as well.  I’ll keep you posted.  I tried to get American Elm (Ulmus americana) but I missed seed drop.  Now I need to hunt for new seedlings if I hope to get any.

The Goal? you ask.  Well the back woods was being regularly grazed by cattle thirty years ago.  That’s when the land owner cut it down before selling it to developers; hence the handful of houses on this road.  The current forest stand is young with only moderate diversity.  My Goal is to have every tree native to this area present in these woods.  The list may include a hundred tree species or so.  I’m still compiling it.  Also Native rhododendrons, azaleas, & mountain laurels are included.  The Wife, bless her soul, is helping me to include herbaceous species as well.  When I’m finished I hope not to be able to see any farther than 20 feet when standing out back.

So I like to watch trees grow..I never said I was Mister Excitement.  A hammock stretched between two trees can keep me busy all day.

Soul without a Shadow.jpg



  1. Is it really fair to say it is a hobby? I thought tree sap ran through your veins.

    Always enjoy your corner of the blog o sphere POLAR.

    T – OK point taken. Maybe I should say ‘All Consuming Hobby’. If I don’t mention that I have a wood shop (wood = trees) or that I keep bees (bee live in trees) no one would be the wiser and I may get away with it. Maybe.
    Give you pooch a biscuit for me. Dobry

  2. Ah yes the man who planted trees, she says nodding sagely..
    It all makes perfect sense..such an beautiful way if tending the planet, I am sure she is very grateful. Wish there were more like you . ((hugs))

    Wild Wolf – Rats! OK there’s obviously no pulling the kilt over your eyes. I love that movie. I first started planting when I was eight. Of that one Oak remains. A fun activity is to go to a local nature preserve a find a tree as old as yourself. Sit down and study it. It is similar to reading a book. You may experience some empathy with the tree. It’s quite fascinating. Glad to hear from you. Dobry.

    • Yes I have a special oak near me, in fact lucky enough to have a few..;)

  3. Ok I am wild writings now just to confuse.
    I have just popped in to tell you you are my hero.
    BUT you will be relieved to hear I am not going to burst into -the wind beneath my wings..-
    I am going to skulk away now back into the woods.

    • Wild Wolf – Aww shucks ma’am, twern’t nothin’!

  4. Magnificent! Your writing AND your trees AND your quiet passion for nature AND the woman who is your soul mate….all magnificent.

    Mr. C., the kids & I just moved on Monday to a rented house….with TREES! Our backyard has a huge cedar, two birch trees, a 15-foot lilac bush/tree, and another tall skinny leafy tree that I’m not sure what it’s called. There’s another big round flowering bush/tree on the side, and in our front yard, we have these two tall sentinels guarding our house (I think they may be black locust trees….)
    Having lived in a 2-bedroom apartment for five years, I am in Nature’s Sanctuary.

    Thank you for continuing to inspire reverence for these beautiful beings. You are a Redwood among weeds 🙂

    Blessings to you & yours,
    Chantal, Princess of her (albeit rented) domain

    • CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEW DIGS! It sounds like there’s a garden bench surrounded by flowers in your future…and an arbor draped with wisteria. I love the lilac. used to have one outside the bedroom window once. We left the window cracked at night when in bloom.

      Thank you for the kind words. I have an offer to make. If you email me images of the bark & leaves I should be able to identify those mystery plants you have. Plant ID is a hobby for me as well. Plus your species up there are in the same book as my trees are down here. Eastern North America. It up to you.

      So will the house eventually resemble your already famous Tea House?? Dobry Den.

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