Gifting a tree
August 20, 2017 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Some close relatives of mine are getting married this September, and I would like to gift them a weeping willow tree. They live in suburban Connecticut. I live in a different state, and unfortunately I have no ability to pick-up/deliver a tree while I'm visiting during their wedding weekend. I see that there are various online tree delivery stores, but I'm concerned about quality and hardiness. I don't want to pay $150 for something to be delivered that dies within weeks. Have you had success with this? Also, do you suggest waiting until the spring? I read that weeping willow trees can be successfully planted in either early fall or early spring.
posted by houseofleaves to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Weeping willows are lovely, but make sure your people have sufficient land. You can't plant them near houses, because their tendency is to grow deep roots that dig into house foundations and pipes. That's why you most commonly see them in parks and other settings well away from buildings.
posted by zadcat at 10:55 AM on August 20, 2017 [8 favorites]

They also need lots of water. Buy them a tree, sure, buy nobody should be picking a species haphazardly.

Fall and spring are both good for planting, but rather than a specific tree, get them a gift certificate from the local nursery, and let them work with the experts on how to pick the right tree for their situation. Any good nursery can install or just drop off, but $150 is at the very low end, FYI.

It may well be that a weeping willow can work, but I wouldn't count on it.
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:06 AM on August 20, 2017 [11 favorites]

Zadcat makes an excellent point. Some other things to consider:
- Weeping willows grow so easily that you can take a small living branch off one tree, pretty much just stick it in the ground, sit back, and watch it grow. I'd hate to see anyone spend $150 on one.
- Their lifespan is about thirty years.
- Their limbs are weak, and they tend to drop in storms.
- They need damp earth to grow; they'd rather be near water.

When we were married, the orchardist across the street offered us a choice of several trees as a gift. We choose a weeping cherry.

Whatever you decide to do, September is a fine time to order and plant a tree in Connecticut. Online nurseries, the big established ones, are mostly pretty reliable.
posted by nohattip at 11:10 AM on August 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Maybe they are near Broken Arrow?

There are a lot of really excellent nurseries in Connecticut--Broken Arrow is one--you could get the gift certificate/card sent you and then put it in the wedding envelope (after making sure you're not ultimately tasking them with a two-hour drive to go choose the tree). I think a tree is a lovely gift but a lot of people are dicey about them because while they're easy, they can also be destructive.

They'll still have time to plant this fall and if they can't decide what to get, spring works too.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:43 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also if you are interested in gifting them fruit trees I bought two pears, two plums, and a peach from these people this year. They're in California but I'm New England too, and all five trees are doing very nicely, despite the fact that I abused the hell out of the peach by stuffing it into a compost pile for six weeks because I couldn't decide where to put it.

They, too, do gift cards.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:47 PM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think a tree is a lovely gift but a lot of people are dicey about them because while they're easy, they can also be destructive.

Woah, I just meant willows here. I didn't mean trees in general were stumbling around the universe knocking stuff over.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:50 PM on August 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

Both of my neighbors here in CT, on each side of my house, have weeping willows. They break easily, limbs go flying in storms, one has toppled over during a sunny day for no reason and landed on a deck, etc etc etc.

They are super beautiful but I wouldn't plant them on purpose in my yard. Fragile, destructive, and have caused lots of problems over the last few years.
posted by slateyness at 2:43 PM on August 20, 2017

A gift certificate to a nursery would be amazing, and you could personalize it with a drawing or picture of a tree and say they could pick out a tree together as a newly married couple.
posted by belau at 3:36 PM on August 20, 2017

I have experience with receiving live plants as a gift that shipped directly from the company.

I got a card from the gifter explaining what the gift was going to be some months before the shrubs arrived. I knew the company was going to send them at the appropriate time for my area. However, the company didn't verify the shipping with me or notify me in advance. Maybe this is better these days.

While one can put the plants in a cool dark area until there's time in the schedule for planting, that's not usually where your UPS deliveries get left. And they are shipped bareroot, so that might need tending to. So if you are traveling, or even if it is merely hot out and the package sits in the sun all day, this can be a problem.

Many nurseries offer delivery on larger trees (where I live, $150 trees tend to have a very large and heavy root ball and are fairly tall, one person would be unable to lift the tree). They might have after wedding plans involving catching up with relatives while wearing nice clothing, or going on a honeymoon, so a gift certificate might be a better bet than surprising them with a sudden need to dig a large pit.

As to the life of the tree, some of that is dependent on whether they are skilled in planting. And some of that depends on whether they actually want a weeping willow in their yard.

There are much smaller and cheaper weeping willows available, if the symbolism of getting one at the wedding is important. In a pretty pot so that they won't have to worry about what to do with right away.

Woah, I just meant willows here. I didn't mean trees in general were stumbling around the universe knocking stuff over.

Sometimes they do, A Terrible Llama.
Sometimes they do.

posted by yohko at 4:55 PM on August 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

If someone gifted me a specific tree with seasonal planting requirements, I'd consider it as appropriate as gifting me exterior house paint in their choice of color - unless they knew I was planning to paint and had decided on the color.
posted by Homer42 at 8:13 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I ordered some Red Birds of Paradise from Almost Eden (Weeping Willow link), and they arrive in fantastic condition and were affordable. That was after I found the only nurseries that had them here wanted 30 bucks a plant. The shipping can be a bit pricy, but I ended up with two healthy plants for the price of a nursery one.

I think a tree is a lovely gift, provided you are sure that 1. They are comfortable with live plants (I used to always kill them, so I would get them and think, "Great, another thing that will die.") and 2. That they want/have room for a tree.
posted by routergirl at 12:24 PM on August 21, 2017

« Older Jack and the tomato stalk   |   Sinus cyst Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.