This is the official start of the arboretum. This walnut tree was growing against our old house and the day before we closed on the sale of the house, Lindsay and I were doing the final walkthrough of the house, saying goodbye, and before we left, I dug up this tree.
I knew walnut trees have a big tap root so I wanted to get the entire tap root to give the tree the best chance of surviving the move. I was not expecting it to go down as deep as it did so the only way I was getting this tree out of the ground was by bare rooting it. But I did manage to get it out of the ground and this will be a sentimental start to the arboretum – a memory of where we came from.
I’ve mentioned my arboretum idea before and I think there’s some general confusion as some people think this means these tree will be a timber stand. This is slightly different. A stand is going to be planted with an end date in mind. The trees will be grown to maturity and then logged. There’s probable a few planned cycles to thin the trees over time but regardless, those trees are planted to be lumber and they’re typically going to be planted with the most profitable species. The trees in the arboretum are planted to be trees – examples of their species and the diversity between species. A collection of trees. Granted these trees will still end up with the same fate as a tree planted for timber. They won’t live forever and when it’s their time to go, they will go by ways of the sawmill and become something else; carrying on their story.
A few years ago I took a green Windsor chairmaking class with Paul Hayden which is at Westonbirt Arboretum. That was my first exposure to a proper arboretum. This concept of having a collection of trees really stuck with me. Just the idea of being to walk around and see a living catalog of trees in varying phases of development is just an incredible joy and I’m happy to have the space to start my own collection. Its also such a long term project that I will never see the true fruition of my efforts but what I’m looking forward to is sitting by this walnut tree with my grandchildren and telling them the story of how back in the spring of ’21, their grandfather moved this tree from the house where their parents started their lives to this property where their parents grew up. The tree was uprooted and moved to a place where it could put down new roots and grow just like my family. I of course will also say that I had to walk uphill both ways to plant the tree.
This northwest corner of our property will become the arboretum. It’s a bit over 2 acres and will span from the road in the foreground to the walnut tree which is pictured towards the top of the picture.