Tuesday, December 9, 2014

At Long Last, THE Tree

Last spring I fell in love... with a tree I'd never seen or even heard of before seeing it in my friend's sister's yard. I had been invited over to see her landscaping, something quite different than the two-cactus-and-a-palm model most everybody else seemed to have, with an average of about one orange per average per back yard. Linda's back yard was a Sonoran Desert version of a jungle with footpaths and a huge gazebo. To save you looking it up, the tree I fell in love with was her palo blanco.

I started researching it throughout this summer online, from characteristics to growing needs to where I might be able to buy one when we got back down here. Please notice that we arrived here in September, and it's now the 9th of December. There are a lot of nurserys, and garden departments of other big box stores, which do not stock palo blanco trees. Trust me on this.

We did locate one nursery about a month ago which stocked one. We could see immediately exactly why they still stocked it. It was a double trunk tree, about 20 feet tall and 2 feet wide each from leaf tip to leaf tip in the canopy, sitting in a wooden box that might have held about 30 gallons of dirt had anybody bothered to put that much in it. It/they badly needed a rescue, so ugly that just seeing it/them made me cringe, but at $250 -plus tax of course - it wasn't going to be me who did it. I wasn't even going to ask what delivery charges might be on top of that, but it for sure would not be haulable in my hatchback. Not to mention the two of us being remotely able to drag it out once home.

We had actually seen some nicely planted versions of the tree earlier that day. A Circle K convenience store had used them in landscaping. Steve pronounced them to be ugly, but he generously also decided that he would tolerate my planting one in the yard. On the other hand, after seeing mature specimens, I was wanting my own more than ever.

Back to the internet, I kept researching who might have the tree available. It would have to be soon, as planting season is nearly over. The roots need to be well established before summer heat hits, particularly since we won't be here to water. I located one source way south of downtown, but they required pre-ordering and a wait of 1-3 days to have the tree in stock - whatever the tree was you ordered. So I put in my order and waited. On day 4, I called, having heard nothing.  He was still looking for a "nice" tree, and if I'd give him until Monday, he might still came up with one. If not, he'd let me know to try elsewhere.

He let me know try elsewhere, even recommending a nursery about half as far from my home as he was.

We went out shopping this morning and passed another chain nursery center near our route. These guys were very expensive, and had they even had a palo blanco, or known what one was (to be fair, our guy was new), we likely couldn't have afforded it. So I called the place the internet guy had recommended, and were delighted to find out they had a number of the trees in stock, and significantly cheaper then even the internet guy was charging. I didn't find out exactly what that number was, but three were displayed up front, and more were in back if I wanted.

My knees said I didn't want.

But there was one I liked in the three, and we managed to get it in my little hatchback, the 15 gallon pot in the back corner and about 4 feet of branches sticking out the passenger window in front. A couple sat across the dash, but the branches and leaves are so fine that they were no obstruction to vision. It was a long ride home, however, as the top of the tree bent more than I wanted whenever I went over 25 mph. Living in a state where everybody drives 10-20 miles over the speed limit, that made me real popular. Even though I avoided the freeway and had the 4-way flashers on the whole trip. There were only two guys who felt the irrepressible need to let me know just exactly how popular I was.

With Steve's help we got the pot and tree out of the car and standing alongside the driveway. When Paul gets here in a couple of days, I'll show him where in the back to plant it. Perhaps it will have dried out a bit by then, making it about 10 pounds more portable.

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