Mission: Sapling
October 21, 2010 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Where do you plant a tree if you want to be sure you can visit it 50 years from now? How do you go about planting it, assuming a team of two adults?

Assume also that this will be perpetrated in or near the Hudson Valley, north of New York City.
posted by swift to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
sadly, the only answer is: "On property you own."

I mean, you could plant it on a state-protected wildlife reserve, but demarcations change. Plus, it's very illegal. And for good reason.
posted by 256 at 7:14 AM on October 21, 2010

Response by poster: There is actually a good-sized arboretum nearby, and possibly some other organizations that do tree planting. So that's a great option. Still, I can't help but imagine doing this on the sly, in a state park or on the side of a parkway.

And I really mean "pretty sure" we can visit it -- I realize that there's no way to foresee what will happen to a particular plot of land, but I doubt that we'll own our little house forever.
posted by swift at 7:36 AM on October 21, 2010

You've also got the environment to contend with. There are plenty of creatures that can easily kill a small tree, not to mention competition from other plants. There's a certain amount of regular upkeep involved in getting a new tree to thrive.

Maybe you should plant twenty. I'm joking
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:38 AM on October 21, 2010

Plant many different one in many locations? You'll have more chances of one surviving. Ragle Woods near the Hudson valley, here we come.
posted by stereo at 7:40 AM on October 21, 2010

Small seedlings, less than a couple of feet high, would be easy to plant. In fifty years, the tree would be pretty much the same size as it would have been if you'd planted a larger sapling. If you planted a few trees, in a few different spots, it would increase your odds.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:40 AM on October 21, 2010

Best answer: tying into what sio42 said, perhaps if you bequested a sapling at a "private" park such as, in my area, Missouri Botanical Garden. More expensive, yes, but much more likely to be tended after, and less likely than a public park to be vandalized.
posted by notsnot at 7:43 AM on October 21, 2010

Definitely do several. Preferably different varieties in different parts of the region. Ideally, many different parts of the world, but that part's harder.
posted by SMPA at 8:10 AM on October 21, 2010

Best answer: Call your city. Ask to sponsor a few trees, and offer to do the planting.
posted by Anonymous.MeFite at 9:06 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

How about at a cemetary? Some have beautiful specimen trees that are well cared for, and it's a nice symbol of continuity beyond death.
posted by Sukey Says at 10:11 AM on October 21, 2010

In addition to where you may want to do a little research into what type of tree to plant or get some suggestions here. Some species need a little more maintenance than others to potentially last 50 years.
posted by Yorrick at 2:20 PM on October 21, 2010

Best answer: Okay, so, if this were me (and now I think it's going to have to be, as this is a really sweet and stealworthy idea) I would choose to plant on an uninhabited island in my area which I know has been purchased in the past few years by a conservancy and which I know will not be touched by anything other than an act of God, and/or I would contact someone involved in replanting as part of a woodlands or wetlands rehabilitation effort, and ask them if I could have planting privileges in a protected area in exchange for a donation. I could recommend some people or places in Pennsylvania and Virginia, if you were willing to travel a bit farther afield.

As for being able to find your tree as it grows, I would plant it adjacent to two unlikely-to-be-destroyed natural features and take good measurements and photographs of its location relative to these. Rock outcroppings, freestanding boulders, natural springs, or cave openings would probably be most durable. I wouldn't plant close to creeks or campsites. Large lakes if protected would probably be okay for a broader reference. If I obtained permission to do it on the island, for example, I would obtain an American sycamore sapling and a buckeye sapling, since both are native to the area and grow well and profusely (and huge) in the area and on the island in particular. I would wrap the roots (which will probably be surrounded by some soil in a burlap covering and will need to be kept moist) in a couple of trash bags. A small bag of mulch in the bottom of a backpack, with one seedling on top sticking out, should be manageable; maybe rig something up to keep it from whipping around too much, such as taping a rag around the trunk (for cushioning so you don't cut the bark) and then wrapping this with some nylon rope that's then tied securely to the backpack straps on either side. It'll probably still whack you in the back of the head on the hike in, but at least your hands will be free. I would pick my spot, follow some advice like this, and then make measurements with tape measure and compass. I would try to visit regularly during the first year.
posted by grar at 3:17 PM on October 21, 2010

My SO's father planted a tree in the front yard of their old house but they've long since sold the house. We still 'visit' the tree by driving by..

Regardless of whether you'll have your house forever, you can always plant a tree there and visit it years later.
posted by p1nkdaisy at 9:18 PM on October 21, 2010

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