Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Planting Acorns

For those who don't already know, Scott is an oak nut (which I suppose makes him an acorn). His yard is a veritable arboretum of various oak trees, including a large number of our native oak Quercus garryana, the Oregon White Oak, or Garry Oak. 2008 was a terrible year for acorns, but this year, there are tons. Scott spent some time collecting acorns from both his trees and another lovely, large tree down the road. Garry oaks were once plentiful in Lopez, and indeed the whole county, but they were heavily logged, and now there are very few remaining on Lopez (and most of those have been purposefully planted). There are still large stand of naturally occurring trees on Orcas & San Juan.

So, in the interest of repopulating Lopez with our native oak, last Saturday, we hiked up to the top of Chadwick Hill and planted about a zillion acorns. There is something quite rewarding about planting trees. In our lifetime, we might see these acorns grow into small saplings. In all likelihood, the majority of the acorns will not survive long- they'll be out-competed by other plants, or they'll sprout, then be demolished by the deer. But the ones that do survive have the potential to grow into huge, gnarled, twisting trees, clinging to the side of the rock faces of Chadwick. We found some trees that Scott had planted several years ago, and the tallest one was maybe four inches. As Chadwick & Watmough are protected areas, it's nice to think that in 50 years, someone hiking up there might remark on the beauty of a tree that I planted.

We'll also start some oaks in pots in the greenhouse to grow out for a year or so to give them a head start. We'll plant those trees somewhere where we can fence them off and water them, though. In addition to the Garry oaks, we have some Red (maybe Black) Oak acorns from my family's place in Maine, and a few other acorns smuggled out of the Arboretum in Seattle. We currently have two Swamp White Oaks and one Red Oak from upstate New York in pots that need to go in the ground.

I'll plant one of the Swamp White Oaks in honor of Lu. Not that she was particularly like an oak tree, but I have an odd affinity for the Swamp White Oaks, and I'd like to see one grow for years to come.

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