For many years now, I have brought bags of leaves home from my mother-in-laws house in the fall to use as mulch in my gardens. Because of the number of oak trees in and around her house, I have managed to also transplant several acorns that have resulted in small oak seedlings throughout my gardens.
Oaks are one of my favorite trees and I am thrilled to have a new generation of trees taking root in my one acre garden. So with the success of these few oak trees, I made the decision last fall to try and save a legacy of a damaged oak before it is completely destroyed by development.
About three years ago, a tornando tore through our tiny town of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. One of the areas hit was a section of town near our community park. In a vacant field near the park, several very old oak trees were uprooted and beat into mangled masses of bark and branches. Although I was saddened at the loss of homes and other property during this twister, losing oak trees that were probably at least 100 years old layed heavy on my heart.
The summer after the tornado, construction began in the field with the damaged oak trees. A new housing subdivision, ironically named "Stone Oak" started to spring up around the park, and the remaining oak trees.
In fear the oaks would be removed, last fall my youngest daught and I went to the construction site. After wading through knee-high weeds to reach the oak trees, we were able to find several dozen viable acorns scattered under the trees. The growing season had been dry and hot, so many of the acorns had already lost the life-sustaining moisture needed to help the seedling spring forth, but we managed to collect a few to bring home.
Once the acorns were in my pocket, I brought them home and planted them in a small nursery bed and kept them moist until germination. I babied these tiny seedlings all through the winter and spring, determined for them to survive.
Now, almost 10 months after planting the acorns, my tiny oak seedlings are no more than several inches tall, but they are strong and sturdy. Next year, I have plans to move the seedlings into permanent locations throughout the garden and I have confidence they will grow and mature into mighty oaks. Granted, I may not live to see their maturity, but my children and grandchildren will know how much I loved these majestic trees.
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