While out jogging, or new year’s resolution abandoned

Not long ago, I found myself reflecting on my tree planting selections in my yard over the last year.  Two are Craigslist rescues and I’ve been having my doubts about them.

The loquat is not looking good, at all.  I don’t know what is wrong with it, but it seems ignoring it has only made it worse.


It’s been flowering for months.  A desperate reproductive strategy employed by a tree that knows its days are numbered?

loquat_fail2I think it is time to admit defeat and say goodbye.  I have a healthy loquat that has put on a ton of growth and I might move it to this spot — less than two years ago, I planted it from a small 4-inch container purchased at Cistus.  I didn’t detect any growth the first year, but now it reaches the top of my 6-foot fence.

Then there’s the ginkgo, which I foolishly brought home sight unseen.  Constrained for time, I sent my husband and one of my sons to dig it up and bring it home in my brother-in-law’s truck.  It’s very healthy, but it has a double leader.  My favorite form for a ginkgo is upright with a central leader.  Anyone want a spreading ginkgo?

I thought I talked myself into giving up tree salvaging as a hobby.

But on Thursday last week, I was out jogging and saw this in a front yard.


I deliberated a whole 5 or 6 seconds before I knocked on the door to ask about any future plans for this tree.  No answer.  So later I drove by to drop off a polite inquiry in writing.  No call.  The next day, no call. Weekend, same.  OK, good — I was actually relieved to be saved from my vice of second hand tree collecting.

But then Monday night I got a friendly VM from the owner giving me the go ahead to rehome this poor tree.  Yippee!

fallen_trachy2I took my assistant over today.

And into the van it went.

trachy3I never thought about what to do with this thing after bringing it home.  This palm has 6 feet of trunk, and measures 9 feet with the mass of leaves.  Since it needs some elaborate burlap wrapping and staking, we decided it had to go into a pot until we could prepare a site and deal with the staking.  Embarrassing, but here it is lashed to our basement stairs and deck railing which is the only place where it wouldn’t potentially fall, endangering a child, pet or plant.


Fingers crossed.

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12 Responses to While out jogging, or new year’s resolution abandoned

  1. Julie Fukuda says:

    Tis the season for biwa blooming. No matter how I whack ours off, it keeps putting forth.
    Our windmill palm, like the biwa is growing through a small pot. You can cut that top back severely until it re-groups. We planted a lot of those at Tama to keep kids from playing on the hill and causing erosion. We leave those un-trimmed and they are doing a great job.

  2. adria says:

    Maybe you could start a half way house for recovering trees!

  3. I love this post! Of course not the part about your poor loquat struggling or the misshapen ginkgo.

  4. Mary Palmer says:

    Best of luck with that palm it already looks a lot better at your place than laying on the ground in its former home.

  5. gardenriots says:

    I don’t have a lot to offer here. A question: Why was it laying on the ground at its previous home? It’s hard to tell what condition its roots were in from your photo, though the root mass looked relatively small. Remember that these don’t have roots like dicot temperate trees. They don’t branch. They all initiate from the base of the trunk. Some palms seem to be much more sensitive to root disturbance than others. Not all can be dealt with like the big Washingtonias you see being moved all of the time in CA. Sean has argued that a large undisturbed rootball is best for Trachy palms. That said, I’d get it in the ground ASAP and firmly guy it in place to minimize movement of the rootball. Movement will slow/prevent roots extending and anchoring the tree to the surrounding soil. Also, for posterity, record everything that you can about this particular tree, what you do and the conditions you place it in. It may take a couple of years before it shows any significant top growth, so don’t give up on it too soon. This will help any of us in the future when we contemplate moving a Trachy! Good luck!

    • Thanks, Lance. I think that it didn’t have enough soil around the the base of the trunk. It was planted in a sort of depression — the surface looked dished out, as though it hadn’t been adequately backfilled when planted. I think it probably was a victim of that Dec wind storm — maybe it’s hopeless at this point to save it, but we’ll see. I’ll wrap it in burlap, tripod-stake it and keep an eye on it.

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