So I hesitate to even post anything about the dwarf Montmorency Cherry tree that I ordered from the Arbor Day Foundation and planted in our back yard last week. I hesitate because the soil I dug was shovelful after shovelful of clay. I hesitate because I needed a handsaw to clear other tree roots from the hole. I hesitate because it's December, for god's sake! I'm just going to have to trust that Arbor Day Foundation knows what they're talking about when they say you can plant trees in EITHER spring or fall (yes, that is snow on the ground).
They shipped me my tree in the mail - it was a pencil's width wide, maybe 2 feet tall, full of nubbly little branches-to-be, and a small ball of roots. Apparently when they ship trees in the fall, they are dormant and will remain so through the winter, until coming to life in the spring. I followed their instructions, digging a wide hole as deep as I could, given the clay and other tree roots. Hoping to add SOME nutrients to the soil, as well as a layer of protection from the winter, I threw on a layer of fall leaves, rich soil from the garden, and a layer of wood chips. Being a dwarf tree, it is supposed to reach a maximum height of 8 feet, which would be just right for our little backyard urban garden. In fact, it would be darn cute.
I would be absolutely elated if this little guy took off and in 5-10 years we're getting handfuls of tart cherries for pies, cobblers, jams, you name it. I just can't help but be a little apprehensive given the state of that ground. If I had been better prepared, I would have dug the hole a while ago and amended the soil better. I guess if he lives we can call him our "miracle tree".
My grandmother who lives in Hamilton had a Montmorency Cherry tree for years when I was young. Every spring our family would drag out the step-ladders, lug gallon buckets up to the top, and pull handful after handful of tart, zingy, juicy cherries from that tree. Mom always made sure to freeze countless pints for mid-year cherry pies, one of her specialties.
Nostalgia - it's a powerful thing!