In Jan 2012 we did a Cruise that ended at the Mitchell River National Park. Our campsite was under a grove of Elm trees and there were lots of small shoots popping up everywhere from the seeds that the trees had dropped. I love collecting such shoots and have done so over the years, with the result that we’ve had some lovely trees growing in our yard in Melbourne. So once again I collected one of these shoots, wrapped it in damp paper towel and put it in a plastic bag for our trip home. It was placed in a small pot and later into a large one, and left there until this year, even though I had intentions to plant it some years ago. This year I decided to plant it properly and give it a real chance to prosper.
The Elm tree had been doing exceptionally well in the large pot in which I’d planted it and, during the changing months over those years, I’d move the pot around so that in Spring/Summer it would get good light and shade, and in Autumn/Winter it would be protected from the elements. Clearly this worked a treat, as the Elm tree continued to grow and became ever larger. It finally got to the point that if I didn’t plant it soon, it could well suffer in the pot, becoming root bound and the soil in the pot starting to lack nourishment. As Winter was coming to an end, I decided to bite the bullet and relocate it to a position that I’d been considering for some time. So in late August I dug a hole in the selected spot, placed the Elm tree into the hole and filled it with some fresh garden soil. The spot is reasonably open, gets good sunlight, but is surrounded by large gums that give it a degree of protection, without smothering things. I’ve de-saturated the background in the photographs to make it a little easier to see the tree.
Now in early October, the Elm tree is doing wonders, it’s looking healthier than it ever did in its pot; little wonder as we’ve had plenty of rain and intermittent sunshine to make any growing tree more than happy. I don’t think it will need much mothering, as most things seem to grow fairly well in our soil, especially as the soil drains quite well, so it’s not a boggy morass even after even the heaviest of rains. And following subsequent research, I think things should fare well for this ‘somewhat’ local Walnut tree.
Since it was pointed out to me that I had collected an Elm and not a Walnut tree, the grove from which this sapling was collected, didn’t defy all the recommendations of the Walnut industry afterall, growing on an exposed hill, in an area that gets high winds, frosts and strong Summer sunshine, as that’s what Elm trees seem to prefer. And when I say strong sunshine, it was the Elm grove under which we camped that weekend that gave us significant relief from the searing heat in that valley. That said, I’m going to keep a close eye on the Elm during Summer, so that it doesn’t suffer from lack of water, given how well it’s doing since planting.
And while the Elm has been given a new lease of life, an Oak (unless I’m wrong once again) is following in its path moving from a small pot to the pot previously occupied by the Elm tree. Some people decry European trees being planted in Australia, but I see no issues with having both living side by side. There are many areas in Australia, such as Gippsland, where European trees thrive because of the climate and they genuinely complement the landscape. There’s another aspect to European trees that many don’t realise and that is they they provide great protection against bushfires. This has been demonstrated several times during bushfires in the last few decades.
It’s now into the first few days of Summer and the Elm tree is doing exceptionally well indeed. It’s close to twice the height that it was when planted and looks to be very healthy. The constant rain and intermittent warm days have been very welcome and it’s not only the Elm tree that’s doing well, everything else in the garden has exploded in growth. The weeds have been prolific and Ragwort has been coming up everywhere along with more Blackberry, so we’ve been doing the rounds with the sprayer before things get out of control. And if the predictions made by our local farmers come true, then Summer will be wet and hot, meaning everything will keep growing strongly.
I’ll leave things as they are for the moment and keep updating this story over the coming months to show how things are progressing. I should have measured the height of the Elm tree on planting, but didn’t think about it; however, at the moment it’s a fraction over 1m tall. We’ve also been given a Sycamore sapling, which we’ll try and nurture into another healthy tree, as long as it survives the move. And with the rain that we’ve been experiencing in the last few days, along with cold weather, it certainly looks like all plant life and animal life will have a boost this Summer.
Update 1: My thanks to Deb for pointing out my tree identification deficiencies. Next time I’ll need to do some extra research before naming any plant. I’m very happy that my error was pointed out, as Dutch Elm disease has virtually wiped out the Elm trees in Europe and North America, so having them thrive so well and so far from their homeland is a nice thing to know. A quick scan of one of the leaves and then a Google search sure did indicate that this was an Elm tree, though the Hazelnut leaf is very similar.
Update 2: Sadly the Sycamore didn’t survive the move, but both the Oak and Elm are doing very well as we approach Feb 2017. The Elm hasn’t grown substantially, but the Oak is going gangbusters, even with a couple of tomato plants giving it company. If this rate of growth continues, I’m going to have to have a serious look at where it can be planted. I have some ideas in mind, but wasn’t expecting to have to implement things for another year or so.
Update 3. It’s been nearly three years since I posted this story about our Elm tree and things have been going very well indeed with the the tiny seedling that I brought home in 2012 from one of our High Country trips. The Elm is now well over 2.4 metres tall and flourishing amongst the tall gums in our backyard. It’s grown a lot faster than I expected and at this rate will start to look like a fine tree rather than a bush as it does at the moment. Anyway, I hope that it keeps growing and adding a bit of a unique touch to the garden.