The Perennial Plantings

I just placed my order for more apple trees to replace those lost learning a hard lesson  and I am working up our schedule for planting them along with a bunch of native bareroot trees and shrubs I ordered a couple of months ago from our local Conservation District Plant Sale:

  • 25 Pacific Dogwood – these will be planted as understory trees to the Red Alder and Douglas Fir in our woodlot along the edges that can be seen from our future home

  • 20 Pacific Willow – these will be planted in the swampy area adjacent to the road as you enter our property

  • 10 Pacific Crabapple – these too will be planted along the road near the willows and may later be used as rootstock for future apple trees

  • 10 Blue Elderberry – my earlier attempts to propagate from seed failed so I ordered seedlings. Half will be planted near our silt pond and half planted along the west end of our curtain drain slope

  • 3 White Oak – just because I still dream of the oak savannah properties we looked at in Oregon years ago when we first started our farm quest.  They will be beautiful replacements for some of the many Douglas Firs we have dotted about the property which will be harvestable by the time the oaks need the space.  The oaks will eventually provide a pannage crop for pigs, albeit a long time from now.
    They will be underplanted with hazelnuts and raspberries – crops we will see sooner than acorns.


M sketched this up on a piece of grocery bag while he was in Palo Alto, CA last week for work. I’m glad he took a photo of it since he left the original in the airport!  I like to think someone found it, framed it and hung it up on their wall. I would have.

So if you do the math, that’s almost 100 trees/shrubs to dig holes for. It sounds like A LOT – and my back will tell you it is – but we have planted 200 trees at a time out there and it wasn’t even a drop in the bucket.  Scale gets us every time. It makes sense why a good permaculturist will tell you to focus on Zone 1 first and then expand out from there. We are trying to stick to that tenant but getting the perennials in sooner rather than later seems to override our common sense at times. I think it is because of our age.

On top of the trees that are going to arrive in the next two weeks I still have tons of potted trees, shrubs, vines and herbs I propagated from seed last year  waiting to be planted out at the farm. Well, at least I resisted the temptation of the zillions of tantalizing seed catalogs that filled my mailbox this winter… Which is good because I also just went through my saved seed inventory and realized I have a whole heck of a lot of seed that should be used before it is no longer viable.

Where am I going to put it all?  I need that greenhouse… and now that I think of it – it’s in Zone 1!


About La Femme Farmer

Starting up a small farm is the goal for the second half of my life. It's a late start I know, but better late than NEVER! Growing food, cooking and eating are my passions and now I get to do it full-time (and then some). and yes, that's a tomato from my garden!
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6 Responses to The Perennial Plantings

  1. Ru says:

    oh dear I am green with tree envy 🙂 love the sketch. I would have framed it too

    • You are too kind. California has a lot of oak savanna that is visually striking, the funny thing is that the same ecosystem reached as far up as us in the long valley through Oregon and Washington.

      Grocery bag sketches are like Instagram for hand drawn art, the fun is the doing not the keeping for me. 😉

  2. Oh! all those lovely trees. I have not ordered a single tree, despite a very clearly written plan on my to do page indicating that this should have been done a month ago. Busy really isn’t a good excuse when I consider all that you and M are getting done. However. Those Pacific willows, are they just for a privacy screen, or do you have a future plan to use them somehow? I know exactly what you mean about the relationship between your age and the priority of getting the trees started – one of those seasons when I’m aware of the hastening years, more so than other times.

    • We ended up planting most of the pacific willows in our wetland mitigation area instead (we are behind on getting that area planted) but planted some of them near our zone 1 area for coppicing – it’s fast growing stick wood for a rocket mass heater (which is in the game plan). You can also use it to make charcoal artists pencils. I’d like to grow some into living fences and would like to grow more colorful varieties for that – there’s a place here in Washington I plan to order from called Dunbar Gardens – beautiful varieties – check out their website. Maybe someday we will also sell willow cuttings for basketry.

      • Hmmm…I had someone several years ago ask if they could come into my bottom field to cut some of the willow growing there – I have no idea what kind it is, but the new branches are red, and that’s what attracted her – she made wreaths and ornamental furniture, Maybe there’s a way to make a few nickels there.

  3. Beautiful and creative things are made with live and dried willow. The living willow structures are amazing. Do a search – you’ll be amazed at what people do with willows.
    It grows super fast. M cut a couple of small branches off of a weeping willow we drive by every weekend on the way to the farm. I cut those into 27 little pieces and one week later every one of them was rooted and full of leaves! Now I’m going to line my driveway at the farm with weeping willows.
    Start propagating from your existing tree and the next thing you know you’ll be hosting basket weaving workshops at your farm!

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