A tree for the future

By Carol / April 27, 2012 /

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese proverb

We planted a tree this week. A ginkgo.

“They’re slow growers,” the nurseryman said. “We know,” I responded. “We planted one before. We like them.”

Even though we chose the biggest ginkgo in the field, it’s still a stick, a pool cue, a twig that will take a good 10 years to provide appreciable shade.

In the meantime, we keep a watchful eye on the sugar maple this ginkgo is intended to replace. It’s been sprouting fewer leaves every spring for the past five years. The tree service says it’s dying, but they can’t say for sure how long it will last.

We’re reluctant to see that maple go because we love and appreciate the shade it spreads across our deck during family reunions, the gold finches that flock to feeders hanging from its branches, and the cool breezes it ensures waft through our porch screens. In the fall, its red-gold leaves are among the most brilliant in our yard.

We’re reluctant to see it go because, even in its denuded state, it casts a greater shadow than our stick of a gingko.

Because of its slow-growing nature, we know it could be 20 years before the ginkgo provides real shade for our porch. We’ll have reached a ripe old age ourselves by that time.

But planting trees has always been for the future – for our grandchildren, for the future owners of this land. So Happy Arbor Day to the future!

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  1. Drew McLellan on May 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm


    Sorry to hear about your maple. I have a tree that is exhibiting the same traits — slower to bloom every spring, fewer leaves etc. Did the tree service give you any advice as to know when it was time to call it quits with your maple?


  2. Carol Bodensteiner on May 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    They did not, Drew. Would have made our decision easier. I suppose the surprise could be on us and it will take off again, but it sure doesn’t look like it. The previous owners had built a raised flower bed two railroad ties deep around the base. The tree guys said that would choke the tree to death gradually. If it had been removed in time, maybe the tree would have survived. I guess like anything. We know the end is coming. But, when?

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