Sunday, July 12, 2020

Planting Trees, Root Wash and Grandkids

Cercis canadensis 'Carolina Sweetheart'
What do all three of these things have in common? Bear with me- there is a connection. We who plant trees know that it is best to untangle roots and spread them out in the direction of their growth. Many trees are sold bare-rooted and it is pretty easy to spread out the roots. What do you do if the trees are sold in a container? Root Wash!!

While many of us have had a time with the year 2020, I have had an additional dimension that has brightened the year. We started off the year with no grandchildren and by the end of the year we will have two! To celebrate the babies, I wanted to plant a tree in each one's honor. 

This idea was one borrowed from my friend Julie Adolf who has a beautiful tree for her daughter. Each birthday a photo of her daughter is taken with (or in) the tree. Since this daughter is now in college it has been fun to watch the growth of both daughter and her tree over the years via these photos. I wanted to do something similar for my grandchildren. Both daughters live hours away in different states, so I am not sure that birthday photos will be made, but hopefully, yearly photos can be taken. 

First grandbaby to be
First the tree choices had to be made. For the first baby, I chose a Redbud, Cercis canadensis 'Carolina Sweetheart'. Winter is the best time to plant in our area, so it was planted before Christmas last year. The Carolina Sweetheart was found locally and planted. As this tree has bloomed and leafed out this spring I am not certain it is the variety I wanted, multiple horticulturists have said it is not. It might be a 'Merlot' or 'Forest Pansy', both dark leaf Redbuds. Time will tell. Mistaken labeling is a topic for another post, in the meanwhile-on with the tree plantings! Our lovely model standing next to the tree planted for her baby. 

Second baby's tree is also a Redbud, Cercis canadensis 'Rising Sun'. While it was also planted in the winter, it was planted later than the 'Carolina Sweetheart'. Both trees had a root wash done when planted. I only photographed the second one. 

Beautiful spring foliage after blooming

Second tree was in a seven gallon container, as we have clay soil and lots of rocks, I wasn't interested in a larger container. Well, that's not completely true, larger containers means more roots, a good thing, it also means a large hole to dig. I try to limit my digging to a manageable amount. 

Rising Sun awaiting placement
See the rocks?

Did  I mention some of the rocks in the yard? I found two good sized ones that now adorn the base of the tree. As I dug and dug I was worried that I needed to move the placement of the hole- not sure how big the rock was that I was hitting. Luckily I finally unearthed the rocks and continued with the hole. 

Hole dug, time for the hose, the wheelbarrow, and patience. Taking the tree out of the container, handling it carefully, moving it by holding the stake in the pot or the root mass I began my task. 

Slowly rinsing and turning, turning and rinsing, I worked the roots out of the potting material. I dumped the full wheelbarrow into the hole and continued rinsing and turning the root ball. 

The yard was getting soggy as I continued.

Finally progress could be seen. When trees, and shrubs for that matter, are grown for long periods in containers their roots will have nowhere to grow but in a circular fashion. If allowed to continue in that manner the roots will girdle the trunk of the tree and like a boa constrictor, strangle the tree. Washing the roots from the soil in the container, you could straighten the roots from their limited growth pattern. Sometimes root pruning might be called for, though not in this case. Root pruning is eliminating a severe tangle of roots or a hard curve that can't be straightened out. I hate to cut any root material, it can stunt the tree. 
After the roots are free they are spread out in the hole, radiating from the trunk. Keeping the tree level and straight, soil was replaced, making sure not to plant too deeply. The tree was finally planted. Having a couple bowling ball sized rocks from the hole, I was able to anchor the root ball and kept it straight while the roots made their way, settling in their new home. 
Planted and mulched with pine straw

Pardon the amateurish arrows drawn on the photo below, but you can see where each of the grandbaby trees is planted. I can see each from the front door. 

Spring growth, first are the blooms then the leaves appear. Two beautiful trees in my landscape. One for each of my grandchildren.

Rising Sun with its golden foliage
Carolina Sweetheart or Merlot?


I love the epicormic buds on Redbuds 

The Cercis canadensis 'Rising Sun' new foliage is sunny yellow with a hint of reds and oranges. So far the foliage is still yellow. I can't wait for the fall color to see how much more of a show this beauty puts on. 

Those heart shaped leaves just glow in the morning light, the rising sun.

Both trees are doing well, still in their first season of growth. We have been lucky to have a good amount of rainfall, always helpful for newly planted trees. Both babies have been born. We are the proud grandparents to a boy and a girl. Both moms are doing great and the babies are perfect in every way. One day life will be such that we can visit and hug our family members who live in another place. Stay healthy and be safe my friends. 
What do you do to celebrate the birth of a child in your life? 
How do you plant your trees?


©Copyright 2020 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.