Planting trees and travel

Planting trees and travel

What do you do when you are getting ready to go on a trip?  Laundry, clean the house, water plants…etc?  I plant trees.  I can’t explain it, and I have just realized that I do this.  It also makes no sense because when I’m not home, I can’t water them.


At my estimation, we’ve planted 75+ trees on our property.  We had 3 old ones cut down, and have lost probably 25 newly planted trees to deer/animals, environmental issues, and neglect, so we’re still doing well enough.  The ones we lost were mostly tiny seedlings that I get free with donation to the Arbor Day foundation, or from the County Soil and Water Conservation District seedling sale, so it’s not a big (or expensive) loss.

We have a fenced in area that used to be an in-ground pool that was filled in years ago.  Since our deer are brutal, it’s the only safe place to plant tiny seedlings.  The ones you get from the Arbor Day Foundation are literally sticks.  Like a 10 inch stick with tiny roots.  I always plant those in the fenced area because they would be mowed over or eaten by deer in about 2 days. We’ve received a mix of trees from them…flowering trees like Crab Apple, Redbud, flowering bushes (Rose of Sharon), and Spruce.  I also plant berry bushes (blackberry and blueberry) because the deer would destroy those.  The blueberry bushes never make it in there (they’ll need to go in our backyard), but the blackberries are starting to grow nicely.

The ones from the Soil and Water Conservation District were all evergreens, and they were slightly bigger…maybe 15 inches tall with a few small branches – 25 white pine and 5 Emerald Green arborvitae, so we planted those in the yard where we wanted them, knowing we’d lose some.  Neither of those are supposed to be highly inviting to deer, but we’ve definitely lost a few, including 2 this week that were finally about thigh-high and getting fuller, that a deer recently took the top 8 inches off (that hurt a bit).  We planted some larger (4 ft) Blue Spruce and American Arborvitae, some tiny Rose of Sharon (the deer keep topping these off), and a few others as well.

But back to the travel part.

The first time this happened, I was about 8-9 months pregnant with Jenson.  It was at our old house and I bought some end-of-season clearance blueberry bushes to go on the side of the house.  I can’t remember where we were going, but they needed to be planted THAT NIGHT, in the rain, because we weren’t going to be home that weekend.  Since I was so pregnant, Lo wasn’t going to let me plant them, so he did the digging.  In the rain.  To be fair, I had to be out there to direct and help.

In 2015…

Then we moved to a house with 100’s of trees (mostly in the ravine in the back), but we were in need of nice trees in the front, because a lot of the trees are older and not in great shape.  In November 2015, a friend was selling 4-5 foot Blue Spruce from his family’s tree farm for a donation to his Pelotonia fundraising.  We paid him extra to deliver them, but we had to plant them that week.  I didn’t actually have any plans to travel, but my sister lost her baby late in pregnancy that week and I flew out 2 days later to be there when she was getting home from the hospital.  I was wrecked and in shock when I found out (and am still pretty devastated 3 years later).  I was 8 months pregnant, and my niece would be 1 month older than Marlowe.  We did the pregnancies together and it just didn’t seem possible to lose a baby at that point, without warning.  So that day, I curled up in bed with Jenson for his nap because I had no idea what to do and I just needed to hold him. Lo came home from work early and dug the giant holes for the trees while we slept for a couple of hours.  I didn’t take any photos of them when newly planted, as that was the last thing on my mind.  This picture is from the following year.  The big Sumac in the top right corner of the photo has since been cut down (see stump below) – by the Electric company, so it cost us nothing (those trees are invasive and they were coming through cutting down dead ash trees near the power lines).  The Spruce are much taller now – probably 8 feet tall or more, so they are growing nicely.

More recently (along with a few varieties of arborvitae in front of and behind, that are hard to recognize because deer have been interfering with their growth).

Then I got hooked up with Arbor Day Foundation in 2015.  With a $10 donation, they sent 12 flowering trees (3 White Flowering Dogwoods, 3 American Redbuds, 2 Sargent Crabapples, 2 Washington Hawthorns + 2 more).  They ship them when the weather is right for planting, basically, right before the ground freezes.  Unfortunately, that was the weekend before Thanksgiving and we were going out of town on Wednesday, so they needed to be planted!  Again, I was 8 months pregnant, digging 12 holes.  The holes were small because the trees were sticks, so it wasn’t a big deal, but still a lot of work.  Lo dug some, but we were also pulling Jenson in the sled, and digging was easier on me than pulling him.

These were all still growing in the fenced area until now, but some were getting big and needed transplanted.  I’d need to look more closely to see how many survived, but I know at least 6 or 7 did – Redbuds, Crabapples, and Dogwoods.  The fenced area gets a little overgrown and vine-y, so it’s hard to tell what it a tree vs. weird weed without looking closely.  Just this week, we dug up one of the Redbuds that’s about 10 foot tall (very skinny still though), and a Dogwood that’s about 4 foot tall, and planted them in the front yard.  And guess what….I’m going to Florida on Saturday (BY MYSELF!), so obviously we HAD to plant them this week.  Not only were they initially planted right before travel, they were transplanted before travel.

In 2016

I got another shipment of trees from Arbor Day Foundation – these ones were Blue Spruce or some sort of evergreen.  Again, they arrived the week before Thanksgiving, and it came down to the day or so before we were leaving.  I put the kids down for a nap and hoped I could get them done without one of them waking and crying.  I figured I had a good hour – Marlowe wasn’t napping well yet. I just kept checking the monitor. We lost a couple…some have already been transplanted and some are still in the fenced area.

In 2017…

Our first rush before travel was a giant pile of mulch that need distributed everywhere – a few days before we had to go out of town for my brother-in-law’s wedding.  The front beds were a MESS.  I had to dig out 8-12 inches of dirt from the front beds in late summer because the soil was above the foundation.  Lo didn’t think mulch was necessary, but finally believed me that it would help prevent weeds and make it look like someone actually lives at the house.  We ordered too much, and still have a pile in the woods.  We put it around everything we could think of.  The beds still need a lot of work, but I just don’t know what to plant and where!  I throw things in each year without rhyme or reason, and things bloom at different times and it never looks balanced, full, or nice.  Both my mom and Lo’s grandma are amazing with gardens, so I need their help to just tell me what to put where.  Or I need to hire a landscape designer.  I think I’ve determined I need a few small bushes – like globe arborvitae and such, because once everything is dead for the year, the beds are just empty and sad looking.

And then in November, MORE Arbor Day Trees were delivered.  I don’t remember what was sent, or if any are still alive…I haven’t walked that far back in the fenced area, but it doesn’t look like much is growing that look like trees.  I had helpers that day at least.  Again…it was 2 days before we went out of town for the week for Thanksgiving.

In 2018…

My first rush “before-travel planting” was planting flowers in the stump from the tree cut down in 2016.  It’s a giant stump and is kind of ugly just sitting there (but would be $1200+ to remove).  It has a big crevice in the top from where it was dying, and I filled it with soil and planted in the stump and around the base.  My mom and I were leaving for Vegas THAT DAY to be there for my nephew’s first birthday party, so I really cut it close, but she and I were able to knock it out during naptime for the kids.  I planted a few things along the house too.  The stump filled in with flowers nicely and looked pretty good through the summer.  The deer destroyed a few of the flowers, but not too many.  I know I took another photo once the flowers had spread and grown larger, but I can’t find it right now.  This is from right after it was planted, but it looked much nicer through the summer.

Then before we left for Vegas and San Diego in August, I planted 2 Japanese Maples that I grabbed from Aldi – one that I ran over when we had to drive through the yard for a few days when we had our driveway repaved, and one that just never was doing well (probably lack of watering).  So those were a waste of time and money.

(picture 2 dead twigs here…one that has been run over by a car and is flattened in the yard)

We wanted to buy a larger tree from a nursery and have it planted where we had a dying tree taken down in the front yard earlier this year.  When the fall tree sales started, I picked out an Autumn Blaze Maple. We had it planted in early November (tree with the mesh around the trunk in the photo).  And just this week we added the Redbud and Flowering White Dogwood (dogwood is the short red one in the background, plus an upclose because it’s so pretty).

And now that these are planted, I can go to Florida on Saturday for a 4 day visit with best friends whom I haven’t seen in WAY too long.  I’ve been missing them terribly, and Lo suggested I take a long weekend and go by myself.  The flight was only about $120, so I couldn’t pass it up.  I love my kids, but I need a little me time.  From taking Jenson to school 4 days a week (only for 2.5 hours, so not much time between drop-off and pickup), the kids no longer taking naps, and me working long, late hours on Columbus on the Cheap for the holiday season, I’m burning out.  Also, daylight savings time has (temporarily) ruined my life.  The kids are waking around 5 am, and Marlowe is waking frequently through the night, so I walk around all day feeling like I have a hangover headache that I didn’t even earn.

But the planting isn’t over…I desperately want some “winter interest” bushes, so I can see myself going to the nursery after I get back to see if they have anything left (Lowe’s didn’t today).  Plus, we’ll go out of town the week before Thanksgiving, so obviously I have to find something to plant then.

Plant, Tree, and Boof enemy #1 (and 2,3,4,5,6,7,8, because there’s a bunch of deer living in our ravine).


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