My First Tree


The first time almost everyone climbs a tree, there are bound to be some embarrassing mishaps. Nobody can become an expert overnight; we all make mistakes, some of which come back to haunt us years after we’ve committed them. However, some of us are more prone to making mistakes than others. I believe that if there were a prize given out for the most naive person who ever attempted to grow a tree, I would be the one to take home the trophy.

When I made the decision to cultivate my own tree, I immediately envisioned the ideal location for it. About five feet of space was left unoccupied between my home and the boundary fence that surrounded it. Because it was probably the part of my lawn that got the fewest visitors, I felt like it needed a little something extra to make it more interesting. It’s possible that if I made it more comfortable with some lovely shade, my family would use it more often. I had a vision of a small paradise for a picnic in the shade where my family could go to spend time together and connect with the natural world. Holy cow, I sure was wrong.

I thought a nice apple tree would be a good choice. Even though there was a possibility that apples might fall on our heads, I thought it would be a treat to sit under the shade and munch on delicious apples that were grown on our own property. The idea of taking part in such an emotional and romantic endeavor was sufficient to motivate me to go to the nursery near me and buy the first apple tree I saw there. My knowledge of trees was insufficient to allow me to examine the tree’s roots or any of the other potential warning signs that it might be sick. I forked over the necessary sum of cash and had the Christmas tree delivered to my residence by a delivery service.

I positioned the hole precisely where I wanted the tree to be planted. This consumed the better part of the rest of the day. It is very simple to underestimate the significance of holes. It’s simple to say that digging a hole won’t take more than an hour or two, but once you get started, you’ll likely find that the process moves at a much more snail’s pace than you had anticipated. When I finally got the hole to be large enough to accommodate the ball of roots, I certainly did not feel like digging another few feet around the perimeter of the hole, as is suggested by the majority of tree planting guides. I had almost finished positioning the tree when you called. With the assistance of my morbidly obese next-door neighbor, I was able to move the tree across the yard and place it in the hole. The void, at that point, needed to be filled in.


After I finished filling in that final shovel load of dirt, I couldn’t have been happier in any other situation. I took a step back to survey my handiwork. At that moment, my daughter, who was three at the time, said something that knocked the wind out of me and continues to do so to this day. “Daddy, that tree is standing up straight like grandpa!” If she had compared my father or any other part of the tree to any other aspect of him, I would have considered it an honor. My father is a great man. However, as of late, he has been experiencing worsening back pain, and as a result, he is unable to stand up very straight. I became aware that the posture of my tree was, in fact, quite comparable to that of his.

I had the impression that this was a problem that the tree would eventually mature out of, so I decided to give it some time and see what the outcome was. I went outside on a daily basis to monitor the development of the tree and to determine whether or not it had become any straighter since the previous day. When I realized that the situation had not improved in any way, it consistently brought me down. I made the decision to put it out of my mind because I did not wish to go through the trouble of removing it from my backyard. I made it a point to avoid going over to that side of the house ever again, and I tried my best to put the tree out of my mind. I made the decision that, in the event that leaving the tree in that location caused any kind of issue in the future, I would immediately pack up my belongings and leave the state. That is how much my embarrassing experience in the tree made me feel like a fool.

When I was sitting in my house one day, I heard a loud crash outside and realized that it had been about three years since I had even acknowledged that the tree had ever existed. I was curious as to what the issue was, so I ran outside to investigate. When I got there, I saw that my tree had reached an unmanageable size, and as a result, it had destroyed my gutter as well as a portion of my neighbor’s fence. Within a week, I had moved out of the state.

If you’re curious about the next story of my gardening journey, find more gardening episodes on my blog!

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