May 25, 2010

I am grateful

Overheard yesterday as I shopped at the garden center:

Dad, look here, these are dogwoods.

I was behind a tightly jammed stand of container trees, all about 5 feet high, and they blocked my view of the shoppers on the other side.  But it sounded like an older woman, and a man answered:

Oh?  The same kind I got?

I don't know, Dad.  The tag says Kowza.

What the heck are kowza trees?  I want dogwoods to replace the dead ones I got.

An elderly man's face appeared amid the foliage.

Hi, I said.  Those trees are Kousa dogwoods.  They're a kind of dogwood that is a little bigger than your flowering dogwood.  And more disease resistant, I added.

They don't have flowers?  he asked, alarmed.

Oh, they do, I said.  Big showy ones.  Creamy white.

That's good, he said, relieved.  Cause I want to replace mine.  They got that disease.

Anthracnose, I said.  All the beautiful dogwoods around here have it, but the kousas don't get hit with it.

We chatted, and his daughter came around to join us.  I told them the kousas were bigger than what he had, with a more rounded shape.  They both said that was good, they'd plant several 10 feet apart.  I suggested more space than that.  Oh, good to know.  I told them I was just another customer, not an employee.  They were very grateful for my help.

What about those other trees that are so pretty, you know, the ones that bloom?  Do they have those?

I took a wild guess and said, you mean Bradford pears?  They do sell them here, lots of them.  They're kind of a problem, though.  Pretty, but prone to structural problems, and they are actually invasive.

Oh I know, she said, there's a ton of them in the mall parking lot.

No, those were planted, I said.  Yeah, she replied, the town center has so many too, they're really invasive, aren't they?

Ummm.... get the kousa dogwoods, I suggested.  You'll be happy with them.

They thanked me sincerely, asked a few more questions, and went away very grateful for the help and advice.

And me?  I was also immensely grateful.  Grateful for the fact that I could offer even this modest advice and I knew what I was talking about.  I was such a newbie a few years ago that I also would have asked someone for "that tree that blooms", or "that one with the bark".  I know so much more now, and I can even help people as they decide to purchase trees.

But I was more grateful for the fact that this nice man with the dead trees wanted to replace them with something pretty and hardy and growing.  He had to be 75 or 80 years old.  These container trees were $24 saplings.  He would never see them reach their full size, and might not even see them bloom very much.

But he was planting trees.


  1. Oh yes, I am all for planting trees. I hope to be doing so when I am 70 or better yet 80.

  2. Very cool story, Laurrie. So good to hear of people planting for the future.

  3. Great story. I am grateful that Anthracnose hasn't been much of a problem around here -- it seems to be more of a problem in cooler regions. I think our mountains have been much harder hit. The Dogwood is our state tree.

    Thank goodness they took your advice and did't buy Bradford Pears! There's too many of them around here too.

  4. Good for you, Laurrie!! I hope I am still planting trees when I- and my garden - are mature. :)

  5. What a lovely melancholy story Laurrie!
    I've seen a couple of posts now about the plight of the dogwood; I hope they find a way to stop the progress of the disease. I t would be heartbreaking to loose it from the landscape.

  6. Thanks to all of you tree lovers for visiting and commenting on my little story!

  7. Then my seedling native dogwoods are 15 feet tall, I'll be ninety, but it doesn't stop me from planting more seed.

  8. NellJean, you may be around at 90 (gardeners live a healthy life) so there's a good chance you'll sit under a mature seedling tree after all. At least I hope so.


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