Mail order trees revisited

We’ve decided to have another go at mail order trees after our first try two years ago. Any tree planting – like all gardening – involves a leap of faith. And after a winter like the one we just had, hungry critters of all kinds had a go at many of our trees and bushes.

Reggie checking out the parcel of mail order trees

The casualties:
3 brand new blackberry bushes – we did our research and found a wonderful, hearty sounding variety out of the US (also mail order), but this spring all three young plants are GONE. Simply gone.
6 young manchu cherry trees – from our first mail order from Golden Bough Tree Farm here in Ontario in 2012. This will be their third summer, but I honestly don’t know if they will make it after experiencing some serious bark stripping. They fared well the previous winters and showed their first fruit last year.
The extremely young black walnut tree that we planted last year – my husband is trying to see if it can be revived in any way, but it doesn’t look good.
Several apple trees around the property.
Quite a lot of buckthorn that serves as a windbreak (and has absolutely nothing else good to recommend it, nasty invasive weed that it is!).

The successes:
No surprises here, generally where we have had the funds and foresight to plant more mature young trees (ie at least six feet tall and several years old), we’re doing quite well. This includes some maple and apple trees, two plums, a slightly younger Japanese maple, a nice collection of the tiny fir trees we planted a few years ago, two golden willows, as well as a very happy looking serviceberry. The red currant bush also looks good.

The borderline cases:
We planted several different varieties of blueberry bushes a couple of years ago and we’re not sure that they are in the right spot. There is still life in them but they are not thriving. If any one has advice on transplanting and/or ideal placement of young-ish blueberries bushes, we’re all ears.

Going forward, we’ve agreed that we’d like to plant more mature trees wherever we can. We’re on a property that is full of trees, but not necessarily the right ones or in the right places, and of course succession planning is another consideration. Adding willows around our pond just makes sense; no self-respecting pond should be without at least one willow! Adding reliable fruit trees and bushes makes abundant sense. Building up trees that are native to the area and that add something to the place also makes sense.

We’re weighing up our options and preferences for fall planting this year (the ideal season for planting new trees). It’s obviously preferable to put in trees that are already six or eight feet tall (and coming into fruit in some cases), but this isn’t a cheap option, especially when limited funds are needed for other essentials like fencing or repairing a vehicle, etc.

This spring we decided to have another go at mail order trees. At $10 to $12 per tree, it’s a nice option for rounding out tree planting schemes, although it clearly requires more vigilance and patience! The single parcel that arrives from Golden Bough Tree Farm is quite a marvel.

Package of mail order trees

This year we will plant another half dozen manchu cherries, the cherry that grows into a fruit-laden hedge over time, in case our first group doesn’t make it. We’re considering how best to protect them. We’ve also bought three black willows, a native variety that we want to help keep going in our area. With a pond and two streams, we figure we’ve got a pretty ideal spot for willows, and they are just such beautiful landscape trees. They won’t be big for many years (all things being equal), but they should be a lovely gift for others down the line as we see it. Last of all, I did include in our order a replacement for the black walnut, just in case. It’s a bit fanciful perhaps, but I love the idea that our property may have a really tall, well established black walnut some day and that whoever is here may prize the wood. Or, they may just enjoy the shade it offers. (Note: we do need to be careful in our placement of the tree; its one drawback is a natural herbicide released by its roots that can kill off or prevent many other plants in close proximity from growing properly!)

We’re in the midst of some rainy days at the moment, so our latest bundle of mail order trees has been temporarily dug into a shaded patch of ground in front of our house, as recommended by Golden Bough. We’ll lift them out when we have the holes dug for these ten trees and get them sorted all at once. I’ll leave you with this photo from when we did the same thing last time around.

Mail order trees temporarily planted in a shady spot

4 thoughts on “Mail order trees revisited

  1. I wish you lots of luck! We’ve alsohad problems with tree planting, it’s disheartening when they don’t thrive. We’ve been looking for structure in the garden and opted for fruit trees and our success rate has been about 65%. We won’t be deterred, we keep trying and we’ve opted for buying one tree instead of three, going for a larger more mature tree seems to be the way forward here too 🙂

    1. Thank you! I think that investing in fewer, more mature trees is definitely the ideal way to go. We don’t have that option with some item, like the manchu cherry, but where we do I think that will be our choice from now on. Wishing you the best for success in your garden!

  2. Let’s hope you don’t have to experience another long winter like the one you just had. I remember something I read from the old Rodale gardening books. It goes something like this…”it’s better to put a 50 cent tree in a $5 hole than to put a $5 tree in a 50 cent hole.” (That was obviously a LONG time ago.) When we put our trees in, we had to crack through the 18″ of hard pan. I had to take a long spike, pound it with a sledgehammer to ‘chisel’ out flakes until we got through. Not sure how many more fruit trees are in my future. 🙂

    1. I missed this comment earlier this month! Sorry about that, especially as I think you make an extremely good point (and I really appreciate the point about our longer winter). For most of the trees we put in we put a lot of effort into making them spacious and piling in the compost (we’re on clay here), so that they stand a good chance. I can’t imagine cracking through that much hard pan, and wouldn’t be surprised if you’re not well disposed to the idea of planting more trees!!

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