Planting a tree

A week ago, the Korean Sweetheart tree (Euscaphis japonica) was successfully moved from a pot on the patio to a permanent position into the ground between the summerhouse and greenhouse. (I should clarify, the summerhouse is a square structure with a leaky aluminum roof. What else to call it? It’s shelter from the summer sun.) This should be a superb location for this small, shrubby tree, and I look forward to seeing it grow since I have seen only once a more mature Sweetheart tree. I knew immediately I must have one, and a tiny sapling has grown surprisingly quickly on the patio.

The moving from container into the ground was accomplished more easily than expected, and not a leaf dropped in the transplant. I feared that a mess would be made, possibly injuring the tree, but the roots came from the ceramic pot nearly as a whole. Excess soil was teased away from the abundant roots, which were then placed in the spot vacated by an ailing Japanese Umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata) that could not be salvaged earlier this year.

The Umbrella pine was destined to be a mistake, too large for the spot, and this location is so much better suited to a small deciduous tree rather than a densely branched evergreen. Certainly, my wife warned of the potential consequences should the pine survive, seeing two others in the garden, and it is now fortunate that I will not be reminded of her correctness for the next decade.

I debated planting the Sweetheart, or a variegated Dove tree (Davidia involucrata ‘Lady Dahlia’) in this location, but the Dove tree has come along more slowly in its container, and I was concerned it could take years for it to make much of a show. Also, this could be too sunny a position for the subtle variegation of the Dove tree’s foliage, so this still very small tree will remain in its pot. This year it required shading, but next year the container will be placed more prominently, and perhaps it will grow more quickly. Another position is under consideration for planting a year from now, where the Dove tree could be partially shaded, and with somewhat more room to grow.

Orange Dream, one of the Japanese maples added two years ago. The still small tree will remain in a pot on the patio until a spot is found for it.

Several Japanese maples are also growing in pots, and next year I must consider moving these into larger containers. These are smaller growing maples that could remain in a pot for years, and with foliage that burns in too much sun the trees can be moved to grow in the less intense spring sun, then sheltered in a more shaded spot through the summer. This is the plan for now, though any could be put into the ground if something opens up, which seems to happen every few years.

Without question, too many trees have been planted on this acre and a quarter plot. Thirty years ago, the majority of the property was exposed to the summer sun, but now, only a small fraction. While a few trees would benefit from double the spacing, I am continually pleased that there are few apparent conflicts. I believe that the Korean Sweetheart tree is ideally placed, and while it is a bit small from the start, it will soon be a treasured addition to the garden.