For Christmas my amazing mother gave me a present unlike any I have ever received. 30 native bare root trees. She had ordered them as part of King County’s native plant campaign. Much like other counties in the Puget Sound, this one was much more of an event than I expected. There were booths and food trucks and thousands and thousands of native plants being picked up. Among the booths were the Shadow Lake Bog and an Enumclaw farm that sells mulch and a nursery selling a wide variety of other plants.
With the cabin being installed in late 2015 and the state of the property after clearing for the driveway and cabin site I knew just what to do with those 30 native trees… help the forest get a jump start on filling in what we had to remove.
Jessica and I have always imagined our property to have a cabin tucked right in to the woods. As we were looking for property we were trying to figure out if there were places where a cabin would fit in and be among the trees and plants and animals. This is meant to be a peaceful escape from the city after all. The closer we could bring the forest to the cabin and the tighter we can make the driveway in among the trees the better.
So, when we were working with our contractor on the site plan and creating enough space for the cabin and for fire-truck access to the driveway and for bring in a crane and tractor trailer with the shipping containers we had to make some space. A helicopter delivery would have been nice but would not have entirely solved the fire access problem. Making space in the forest means cutting down trees. For us it also meant smoothing out a part of the to-be driveway which created a bunch of fill dirt that needed to go somewhere and we chose to put it in the place we had logged to minimize impact.
With the road ready for delivery we have a lot more open space than when we bought the place and the trees enclosed the drive. Along the way was also the fill dirt which of course means that whatever starts growing will have to restart the process of creating topsoil. So, when the native plant event hit in March it was an easy decision to take those trees straight to Elma and get them going along the driveway.
We planned a day a week after picking up the trees to get over to the cabin. The weather was nice for the time of year… cloudy with occasional light showers and moderate temperature. We loaded the now-potted douglas fir, noble fir, and western red cedar trees in to the pickup and Jessica, Tyler, and I made the trip.
The process of planting a tree is not unlike planting anything else. You want a hole that is deep and wide to allow the trees roots to expand easily. You want rich soil for the tree to pull nutrients from. You want to prevent water from pooling up right where you’ve planted the tree to keep the roots healthy. So, we got to it… digging 30 holes, setting the trees in them, and bringing in some of the very, very rich top soil from under the canopy where we didn’t have enough in the pot. We also had to address some drainage along the driveway to keep the flow from drowning any of the new trees.
Thirty trees is quite a few and we did take the opportunity to break for lunch along the way at Eagle’s Nest in town. A nice spot for burgers, shakes, and a sit down. There’s a bathroom for cleaning up and some gumball machines for fun.
On our return Tyler was done digging holes and decided to move in to the topsoil department, mixing up some cedar stump bits with the good soil for us. By mid afternoon we had the trees planted and the good dirt piled high around them. We took the opportunity to check on the cabin inside and out and to walk along the stream. This time of year there is just about the strongest flow off the hills and through the dam. The forest was a little damp, smelled amazing, and the birds were out and about.
For me, planting these trees is the start of returning the property to how we envision it. A place where the forest leaves its mark on us rather than we on it. I look forward to you coming out to experience it yourself and having the opportunity to see how it recovers year to year.