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Friday, June 19, 2015

Trees, Trees, Trees

Trees are great. They give us a place to avoid the blazing sun and toss a picnic basket, a place to hang a swing, a place to climb and play, and a habitats for numerous species of critters.  The prairielands are not known for their trees, hence prairieland.  If we had wall to wall trees, we'd be known as a deciduous forest.   When the settlers first started coming west from the tree heavy eastern third of the country, they were shocked at the lack of trees.  The only stands of trees were found tightly hugging the streams and rivers, cottonwoods, fast growing, soft wooded cottonwood, Riparian Prairie they call it.  Settlers bent on starting orchards brought seedlings of their old stock with them.  But fruit trees hardly make a home.

Settlers would send home for seeds and saplings to plant around their new homesteads.   In April of 1872, America celebrated their first Arbor Day, started by J. Sterling Morton - grandfather to the great salt empire.  On that celebratory day, over million trees were planted in the state of Nebraska.  In the town of Nebraska City, Nebraska, you can still visit the Arbor Day Farm.  It's an amazing place with education centers, walking paths, and historic areas.  You can even take home a small seedling from the greenhouse.  It's a wonderful place to stop and take a break on a road trip, or on the way to or from the UNL orchards at Kimmel Orchards, a wonderful u-pick it farm with a retail outlet as well.

I digress...

The National Arbor Day foundation sells trees to this day, as well as being a fabulous educational resource for tree lovers. 

When choosing shade and orchard trees for the Station, I decided to shop the Foundation.  By buying a membership, I was able to purchase the trees for a discounted amount that more than paid for the cost of membership, and also earned me 10 free seedlings. (Membership benefits change, read the details before joining.)

I know what trees cost at local nursery shops and big box stores, and the arbor day foundation trees where on par with, or slightly less than that cost, so I decided to support the foundation.

Now, this isn't a complaint or a warning not to buy, but simply an informative piece.  I ordered over $300 in trees.  I expected trees.   No where in the book or on the website does it tell you what, besides the species, you will be getting in the mail.  My hopes were lifted when a neighbor of mine received trees from a less than reliable mail order company and she received actual 3-4 foot trees, properly pruned and ready to plant.  Certainly mine would be just as nice.  I paid the same price.  30 trees were coming, and another neighbor actually offer to help me dig holes.

A week later a box arrived via the USPost; 6 feet long, 6 inches across, and 5 inches deep. At some point, the end two feet of the box had been folded completely over. But, Yippie! My first tree has arrived!  Boy was I WRONG.

This is what was in the box.  I can't even in good conscience call them sticks.  They were twigs.  Several of them had their tops snapped off in the shipping mishap.

Needless to say I was disappointed, annoyed, and yes, angry.  But these needed to get in the ground ASAP.  They certainly weren't going down into the meadow, where the hay would conceal them from the tractor view and be baled in July. So I created a 36 square foot area at the end of the garden plot, planted the trees, and put up its own electric fence to protect them from munchie crazed deer.  I then sent off a scathing, but nice, email to the Foundation.
I received back a canned answer that hardly applied to my email.  They are so annoying.  It stated that shipping problems happen, and that I should test the twigs for life by scratching the bark and looking for green underneath.  I KNEW they were alive, it was their quality and the damage I was writing about.  Grrrr.....
Last week I went out and the plants that weren't doing well, were now dead, as well as several others.  In fact, 14 out of 30 were very obviously dead.  I shot off another email and the next day, received yet another canned response.  This one went into planting and reshipping, which would now be in early November.  It went on to explain that I should pre-dig my holes before the ground freezes, making digging difficult.  But the ground wouldn't be totally frozen, not cold enough to ice skate on my local pond....WHAAAAAT?!
Or I could arrange for redelivery next Spring.
OR I could arrange for a refund for the dead "trees".  Well that choice was the obvious one.  When I called in to make that arrangement, I had the sweetest person on the phone.  In fact, every time I've called, ordering, questions, help, the person has been so sweet.  Note to the foundation, have your customer service people actually deal with emails on a personal level.  It's almost as bad as dealing with a useless phone menu when you call a business.
Anyway, that is my caveat emptor (buyer beware), moment of the day.
So I was on the lookout for trees.  I still wanted to support a local trusted business and ended up at the local Lanoha nursery. WOW, what a treat!  A garden center and botanical eye candy, all in one trip!
Dunrovin Station Orchard

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