Saturday, 20 March 2021

How (not) To Plant A Bay Tree

You know how some people are better at explaining things, than others?

As a tutor - I teach gardening privately, and I teach Tree Identification for the Field Studies Council - I have always made a point of teaching the task, the whole task, and nothing but the task.

Well, I struggle a bit with that last one, "nothing but the task", to be fair, as I am easily diverted... and in gardening and botany, subjects are rarely clear-cut and discrete, they are usually interconnected and quite complicated - but in principle, that's how I work: full disclosure.

In fact, one of my Clients said to me, the other day, "Are you teaching your student all the tricks of the trade?".  I looked at them, and replied, "No - I'm teaching them The Trade."

This goes for my regular, year-long Trainee as well: I don't teach them shortcuts and cheats, I teach them how to do a proper job.

Now, I don't think that this -  my philosophy of teaching "properly" - is particularly unusual, or outstanding: it's what I do, it's what I assume everyone else does.

But apparently not...

I was recently instructing a private student in how to plant a small tree. We covered all the usual things: correct preparation of the plant: how to prepare the planting hole: how to physically plant it, how to stake it, how to water it, and what after-care is required. 

Nothing earth-shattering there, you'd think.

And then I remembered this little Bay Tree:

It's a happy little fellow, wouldn't you say?

Nice and shapely (that would be down to me pruning it), good and healthy-looking, quite a nice addition to a garden.

Also, quite a well-established little tree: nearly as high as the rotary drier which you can just see, off to the left.

The planting hole needs a bit of tidying-up, in this particular photo, but generally speaking, it's a happy little Bay Tree.

Or it it?

Take a closer look at the base:

What can you see, there at the base, just at the tip of my secateurs, which are there for scale?

No, not the unwanted shoots, they're about to be removed, as part of the "clearing out the planting hole" job. 

But you can have a housepoint for  noticing them.

No, can you see that black plastic line?

It's the remnants of the plastic pot - the one in which the plant was grown, in the nursery, before it was sold to whoever planted it here...

...yes, the person who planted it,  failed to take the tree out of the pot before planting it......  *shrieks hysterically*

You have to laugh - it's either that, or cry.

It's far, far too late to think of removing the plastic pot now - as you can see, it's embedded in the trunk. But I do sometimes despair, at the idea that someone, somewhere, bought a plant in a plastic pot, and planted it out - without removing the plastic pot first.

And my Trainee sometimes looks at me, as though to say "I'm not daft, you know," when I explain in detail every small step that we take, why we do it, which steps are necessary, which ones can sometimes be disregarded, and why.

Well, that's why I do it!

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