Monday, March 16, 2020

Never too many trees ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Jilda and I had a special chore on our list a few weeks ago. The local Alabama Forestry Commission folks had a tree sale at the farmer’s market in Jasper. Even though our farm has thousands of trees, we felt we needed more. I’m not sure a farm can have too many trees.

We headed out before breakfast to get a good place in the line. We got there at 8 a.m., which is when the sale started, but we were late. I’m guessing there were already 75 people standing with check in hand waiting to get their trees. The wind out of the north had us wishing we’d worn long johns.

The sun was out, but the line formed on the shady side of the farmer’s market vendor stalls. Someone made a management decision for everybody to reform the line on the other side so that we could wait in the sun. A worm of people sidestepped across the stalls. The warm sun on our backs brightened everyone’s mood.

The Walker County Beekeepers had posted a list of all the trees and shrubs that would be for sale. So, the night before, I did my homework and printed out the list to take it with us. On the back of the sheet, Jilda had sketched out a rough map of where we would plant our new arborbooty (Is that a word?)

One of the items on my list was a black gum tree. They are beautiful trees that turn deep crimson in autumn. The main reason I wanted one was to connect me to my past. My great grandmother that I mentioned in my column last week had one in her back yard. She’d fray the end of a small black gum limb and use it for a toothbrush.

By the time we got to the front of the line, they were out of some of the trees on my list.

We did get a crabapple, a plum, redbuds, a holly, two pawpaw trees, and a bucket full of sourwood. We also got a white fringe tree which some people call a grandpa’s beard. They bloom in late spring and early summer. The fragrant blossoms turn the color of lace and hang down like grandpa’s beard.

Some of the things we planted grow fast, and we’ll enjoy them next year. Others take much longer to mature.

We’ve always loved trees and shrubs, but we doubled down this year because of our bees. Many of the successful beekeepers we’ve met have a variety of flowers and trees that provide a floral banquet for their bees.

Jilda’s sister Nell usually gets us trees or shrubs for our birthday. Several years ago, she bought us a pecan tree and last year she bought us a walnut tree. She laughed as she put the tree in the back of the truck and said, “Neither one of you will live to eat walnuts off of this tree.” I smiled at her words.

Without knowing it, Jilda and I subscribe to the old Greek proverb that says, “Society grows great when old men (and women) plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

Note: I haven't taken a picture of the things we just planted, but I had this picture of the apple tree that we planted almost 40 years ago. 


  1. Trees are the perfect memorial.
    No black gum? Better luck next year.

  2. Good column, again I know your readers will get a kick out of it. I love the old proverb, nice!
    Sherry and jack

  3. I agree there can never be too many trees. At the rate they are cut down, all cannot be replaced and we need them to live. The apple blossoms are lovely. Thanks for another picture fo spring! Rain here and nothing growing, but it is supposed to be a good time to plant them.

  4. Dear Rick, thank you for this posting that shows so well that life goes on and that illustrates for us that planting a tree is, in a real way, taking care of the future and of those who will come after us. I so liked the Greek quotation you gave us. Thank you. And . . . I can see in the distance in your photograph your bee boxes! (Or whatever they are called!) I bet they are happy that you planted that apple tree forty years ago. Peace.

  5. You and Jilda are doing a great thing by planting trees to help your bees, other animals and the trees. My dad would like this very much


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