by Nita Hill

The second rule of gardening is to start big and work your way down. So, if you need trees you must plant them the first year. There was a huge windstorm here a year ago last November and driving around you still see many broken trees and there were many trees that came down. Especially evergreens. We had the experience in the Sierras where an enormous Incense Cedar was felled in one of those storms. It hit my greenhouse and exploded it.

People are weird about trees. (Well, I guess they are weird about everything.) Gardening is not interior design and plants are not furniture. Yes, you can hack them into some desired shape, but I like to let them be, with minimal maintenance. Plants need to be planted well. I think it was Gertrude Jekyll who said there are no bad plants just plants that have been badly placed. Of, course every gardener is guilty of that sin some time or another. We had a house in Portland where they planted a sequoia in the parking strip under the power lines. I will not be planting a large tree. I won’t live long enough to see it grow and I want decorative trees.

There are two trees in my new garden. In the back is an ancient maple.

In the front, there is a stick with a label. Tangerine.

Who in their right mind would ever plant a tangerine tree in Spokane, Washington? If it hadn’t been labeled, I would never have guessed. If I’m feeling magnanimous, it will be relocated to the corner in the back and replaced with something else. Probably a dogwood. As for the maple, it looks dreadful. Someone had “trimmed” it, leaving stumpy lengths of branches that have rotted. The roots that grow on top of the ground have been mowed over so many times they are also rotted and have moss growing in them.

Welcome to Trumplandia. Our first encounter with a neighbor was the day we moved in. He came over to inform us that the maple had aphids and would be an expensive problem. Also he told us that his whole family works at Walmart.

The tree is huge. We filled two green cans and six of those big bags with leaves, packed. I will need a consultation from an arborist.