Some reasons to like trees that have nothing to do with global warming

Let me begin this post with an apology to Jenny. She has waited so patiently for pictures of my trees, and I know she’d really rather see the exotics I purchased recently.

But Jenny, by the time you asked for pictures, most of them were already planted, and being a foot or so tall in their great big anti-beaver wire cages, there isn’t much to see. I tried to take some pictures, and even I went “ho hum” at the results.

However, I am going to post some pictures of a few more mundane varieties and hope they aren’t as mundane in New Zealand. And what these trees have in common is that they were each basically sticks a foot or less tall when I planted them. So I have great hopes for my new ones.

 This Western Red Cedar was my first “rescue” effort. I rescued it from an office building landscaped lot. It was a volunteer from God knows where. There weren’t any cedar trees in the immediate area. I looked at it and realized that the maintenance crew was just going to yank it out next time through, called the management company and asked their permission to dig it up. Granted. It’s now about 14′ tall and very pretty just off my back deck.

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar is what is known as a “climax” species. It will grow in virtually total shade and eventually take over the forest. Before the big fires of the 19th and 20th centuries, much of western Oregon was covered with giant cedar trees.

This mountain ash was a seedling from a tree in a house we once owned. It is now nearly 20″ tall and has beautiful white flowers in the spring followed by brilliant red berries.

Mountain Ash

This is a redbud tree (actually two planted in close proximity). The Arbor Day Society sent me this one when I sent them a teeny bit of money.


Here’s a closeup of the blossoms:

Redbud blossoms

This Japanese red maple is a very slow grower. I took three seedlings from a house we lived in. The tree there had been planted when the house was built about 90 years ago and was nearly as big as the house. A friend called it “the sort of tree you would buy a house just to get.” That’s pretty much how we felt about it, too.

Japanese red maple with rhododendron

This tree opens a purple red, gradually becomes green and bronze, and in the fall turns neon red. It is truly spectacular most times of the year.

There are lots of reasons I’m feeling very friendly toward trees today. Not the least of them is that I’ve spent most of the last three days gardening. Ben tilled about half the load of BS into the garden. I got all that stuff I bought planted, and it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I actually put some seed in the ground, too, so nature can water it for me.

As I was cleaning up, Ben showed up with some dahlia tubers that a neighbor sent down, so I had another 45 minutes or so of planting and digging to do. I’m dog-tired, and I can’t help but contrast the amount of work the garden takes to get a great reward with the teeny amount of effort it takes to grow fine trees here in my sub-tropical rain forest.

But now I read that planting trees in the northern latitudes actually contributes to global warming because they absorb sunlight. I’m going to ignore that little piece of information and keep planting them.

Oh, and one more reason to like trees: Last winter we had to take down some of the fir trees Ben planted more than 30 years ago. They had taken out the power lines (we don’t care, but the rest of the valley sure did) and were threatening the little cabin across the river. A logger friend came down and cut them for us. The power company repair crew offered to knight him.

Today the company that bought them picked them up to take to a mill. These are the first trees Ben has logged that he actually planted. It was a full truckload.

Log load

3 Responses to “Some reasons to like trees that have nothing to do with global warming”

  1. jennylitchfield Says:

    No apologies needed – I just loved viewing your snapshots. Is redbud the actual name of the tree – or is it the mountain ash? The maple looks so at home. Well done for rescuing the cedar – what wonderful forests there must have been once upon a time in Oregon. Interested to read about the logging – our neighbour had a similar experience with our power company. What is the fir timber used for?

  2. mklekacz Says:

    The two are different trees, Jenny. The mountain ash also has white flowers, but they’re not open yet. I’m not sure I’d ever seen a redbud before the Arbor Day folks sent me this one. I don’t think they’re native here. It seems to me that I’ve read about them in novels set in the southern U.S. But the blooms are so-o-o wonderful that I’m really glad to have it.

    There were and still are lovely forests in Oregon, in many places, including our valley, there are more trees than there have been for a century or so. There are not, it is true, so many “old growth,” the giants. But the truth of the matter is that at each stage of the forest, the trees support a different ecosystem. If you had all old growth, there’s very little for the larger mammals like deer and elk (or even many of the smaller ones for that matter) to live on. So I love the diversity.

    Douglas Fir (really a species of pine) is a big cash crop in Oregon. The wood is used primarily for construction, the studs and plywood used to build wooden houses. It’s a soft wood, not particularly suitable for furniture, although the heartwood of very old firs makes lovely cabinet doors and facings.

  3. Rachelle Says:

    If it has white blooms, the “redbud” you listed is actually a dogwood or crabapple. Redbuds have purple/pink/reddish blooms. From the photos of the blooms, I would guess Dogwood if I had to put money on it. The redbud’s leaves are somewhat heart-shaped. Dogwood has a petaled bloom, often white (I believe twhite is the variety arbor day sends). Just thought you would want to know!

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