Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Trees for the People

In Maryland it can be hard to see the trees for the forest, since the forests cover over 40% of the landscape. Forests offer cover, but trees offer comfort, whether from their fruits, nuts, shade or shape. A tree in a forest is just another occlusion, while a tree free to unfold can be a wonder to behold.
Photo by liliebloem CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
In case anyone in my area was planning to plant trees this Spring, the end of March is the free shipping deadline on trees from Izel Plants and Tree-Mendous Maryland. The latter is a government program for plantings on public property and the former is a clearinghouse for a few commercial nurseries specializing in native plants. Prices from either are about half of what you would pay at retail nurseries. Good deals on small numbers of trees are also to be had at Master Gardener and Garden Club plant sales.  Sotterly Plantation's is coming up at the end of April, as is the Calvert Master Gardener's on May 7. Trees planted in large quantities for conservation efforts can be ordered from the Maryland online nursery at just $1 each.

We get the urge sometimes to plant trees. We want to offset our own carbon emissions, leave a lasting token of our love of life, or maybe mark the years of our demise by a tree's increasing grandeur. We may own little land on which to plant, but who says you have to own the land?

A guerrilla tree planting methodology could involve meeting with authorities concerning the public lands nearest your usual haunts to see if they would want any more trees planted on those properties. If they are open to the idea, come back with suggestions of sites (unless they already have some in mind), species, and patterns. If they can budget for the work to be done or just for the trees, then it makes things easier the following year, but in the meantime keep a lookout in the vicinity for tree service companies working in the area and get a truckload or more of woodchips dumped on the site. If you can get 2 inches of compost (preferably with biochar) or manure and layers of newspaper and/or cardboard (weed blockers) in place before the woodchips, so much the better. The site will be ready to plant in after a year or so of this organic material decaying in situ.  Order trees between January and March for the best deals on shipping.  If the owner is unable to bear the expenses, other civic groups, like the Master Gardeners may have funds to contribute.  The steps outlined by the Tree-Mendous Maryland program capture other essentials and should be followed in conjunction with the guerrilla methodology.

So, next time you look at an open space in your community that seems barren, unattractive, and lacking purpose you now know a possible way to bring it to life. I'm not sure where I will apply it, but once our erosion control project is done at my church, I'd like to follow +Michael Judd's example "like Johnny Appleseed in spreading these patches everywhere. "

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