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An Arbor a Day…

“This Arbor Day Message is Ari Rae Approved”

My spring arbor order arrived April 12th. With chilled early spring temps, April’s shower spigot flooding most everything, and full-on mud season going full force, my initial plan was to let things dry out a bit before planting.

30 white pine and 50 Norway Spruce bare root transplants from our local Soil & Conservation District now sat, snugly moist pine shavings boxed up in bundles of ten in a protected back corner of my garage, nestled next to four cold hardy McIntosh apple arbors I’d purchased locally.

I’d spotted several nice Zone 3 rated McIntosh, JonaMacs & Gala apple arbors two weeks earlier while out buying more seeds to throw my nesting spring birds. I’m on the lookout each spring for cold hardy apple varieties that will grow in our region. While we are listed as USDA planting cold hardiness zone 4, a life of experience tells me we are more accurately categorized as “Lake Effect Zone 2.5”. Basically, if it won’t grow in Alberta Canada, it sure as shootin’ ain’t growin’ here.

While I would rather not start stockpiling arbors for planting while the calendar still reads March, I learned many years ago that if I wait until actual arbor planting season, all the arbors that are left are rated for USDA zones 4-9. Why they even sell those non-cold hardy arbors here locally is something I’ll never quite understand. Cleary, the big retail chains’ tree ordering guys have never actually tried locally growing one. Selling those arbors here seems to me almost criminal. What I do know is that if I don’t buy them the minute I see them, by the 1st week of April, the best cold hardy apple arbors are long gone.

My plan was to wait for things to dry out a bit. Planting arbors in rain-soaked mud in a cold mid-April downpour is not my idea of fun. So, my goal was to wait the weather out a bit and get all my arbors in the ground before April 26th, Arbor Day. However, my apple arbors protested, gracing our garage with the sweet scent of their blossoms.

I’d already mapped out and prepped an area for planting, taking full advantage of the snow free warmer than average weather early this past winter. However, as I went out to survey the area along my “Rock Road” I’d prepared as my arbor transplants’ new home, I realized I’d have to do some more digging and drainage work before putting any of those baby arbors in the ground.

So, I got to work doing what I do best; talking to water, slinging dirt, muck and mud, repositioning mongo boulders & rocks, expanding my Rock Road, adding an interconnected series of fully functional, flowing drainages and trenches.

It’s pretty amazing how big a boulder one determined guy can convince to move. I repositioned those boulders myself, with one of the few science class lessons I actually paid attention to as a kid. I used a lever (shovel or pry bar) & fulcrum (small rock or rocks). Those big rocks actually slid pretty easily once I pried them up out of the spots they had long ago settled in.

(Full disclosure: I had a “heart to heart” chat with each boulder as I moved it. I may have even uttered a few special rock movin’ words in the process.)

I began, bit by bit, exposing my “Rock Road” bedrock shelf a number of years ago. I find it fascinating. Like reading pages from an ancient book written four hundred million years ago.

One interesting feature I discovered as I dug involved a spring hole I opened up, marked by the pipe in the lower left photo above. I had previously opened up what I believe to be an early 1800’s farmer’s dug well (lower right in the photo collage above). The minute I pulled out the last of the big rocks from the pond pipe on Rock Road’s left side, the well hole on the right side of Rock Road filled up with water!

Another fascinating Rock Road feature I uncovered while digging. Several fossilized imprint of my land’s previous occupants. I believe I have correctly identified them as nautiloids. I love finding them. I am also quite fascinated by the undulations in the rock, which I believe provide an etched in stone record of the directional force with which water once flowed.

Once I was done drainage digging, I allowed water to drain overnight before my arbor planting effort commenced. I planted arbors in fresh pondside muck. I planted arbors in the mud. I planted arbors in cold mist. I even planted arbors in the pouring down rain.

I planted arbors on high ground hummocks created by sod I’d dug up and mounded.

“King of the Hill”

Out of necessity, I chicken wire caged in all 30 white pines.

Otherwise, all I was planting was an Arbor Day loving deer’s candy.

“Candy Craving Denied!”

There’s an old saying:

“Good fences make good neighbors”.

I planted several arbors along my back property line border. Some of my neighbors prefer defining “good neighbor” with chain link, electric fence and barbed wire. I prefer defining my good neighbor property fence line with arbors.

Nothing beats a little quality family arbor planting time.

Especially when it earns Grampa an Ari Rae fist bump of approval.

By the time all is said and done, I’ll have introduced 85 fresh, healthy, new arbors to ground.

As the age old saying goes:

“An arbor a day keeps erosion at bay.”

Still, truth be told, at some points this spring, April’s never-ending spring shower deluge had even the ducks wondering if I instead should have focused my efforts on building an ark.


Until Our Trails Cross Again: