Planting Platanus acerifolia ‘Bloodgood’ in My Maze
My newest project here at my Bedford, New York farm is my garden maze – and it’s becoming more and more beautiful with the planting of each tree.
The three-acre lush pasture just outside my Winter House is the setting for my maze. Earlier this year I decided I wanted to create a maze of interesting hedges, espaliers and shrubs. I started with European beech, European hornbeams, boxwood, parrotias, and a variety of espaliered apple trees. I also planted several Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’ trees, American sweetgums. Most recently, I added a selection of handsome London planetrees, Platanus acerifolia ‘Bloodgood,’ a relative of the mighty sycamore. These trees are large shade trees with broad open crowns. They were the perfect choice for the center of my maze, where they will surround and shade an open space.
A few weeks ago I purchased a selection of Platanus acerifolia ‘Bloodgood’ trees. The trees were quite tall, so they were all delivered on a flatbed truck to my farm.
Slowly and carefully, each tree was removed from the truck and transferred to my Hi-Lo…
… And then to the dump truck that would transport them to the maze field.
Meanwhile, my outdoor grounds crew foreman, Chhiring, begins to make the holes for the trees. He is using our dependable M4-071 tractor and backhoe. This tractor is one of the most important pieces of equipment here at the farm. It is used every day to do a myriad of jobs.
Special tractor stabilizing feet secure the vehicle to the ground while the backhoe is being used.
Chhiring digs one of the holes at a previously marked spot – we measured and spray-painted the grass to indicate exactly where the tree would be planted.
Pasang uses a shovel to help shape the proper hole and ensure it is deep enough for the trees. The holes must be pretty wide – at least two to five times as wide as the root ball.
Here is a row of holes dug across the field. The hole sides should also be slanted. Digging a wide planting hole helps to provide the best opportunity for roots to expand into its new growing environment.
As the holes are dug, each tree is delivered to the site. Platanus acerifolia ‘Bloodgood’ trees do best in an area that receives full sun. It should be watered regularly after planting to encourage a healthy root system, but then watering frequency can be reduced once established except during periods of extreme heat. Although the ‘Bloodgood” is not considered a drought-tolerant plant, this variety can tolerate short periods without water.
Here is a row of trees now ready for planting. Each hole is also fertilized. It is very important to feed the plants and trees. I always say, “if you eat, your plants should eat.” We use a quality food with mycorrhizal fungi, which helps transplant survival and increases water and nutrient absorption.
And then each tree is slowly rolled into its designated hole. The crew rotates the tree on its root ball closer to the hole. When moving heavy trees, only hold it by the root ball and the base of the trunk – never by its branches, which could easily break.
Every tree is now in its hole. The crew measures each one again and makes sure each one is turned with its best side facing inward.
Next, the protective wrapping and any wire or rope are removed from the root ball. If left untouched, these wrapping materials could reduce the ability of a tree’s roots to grow out into the surrounding soil. Some gardeners will leave them in the ground, but I prefer to remove everything, so there is nothing blocking its root growth.
And then the holes are backfilled, and the trees are given a good drink of water.
The next day, the crew mulches the bed. We use a length of bamboo to maintain the proper width of the mulching area.
I am so fortunate that I can make mulch and compost right here at the farm.
Chhiring uses a hard rake to spread and level the mulch.
And Domi creates a straight and neat edge all the way around the row of trees.
Here it is one side once it is complete. These trees will grow so nicely in this space – the center of the maze, where one will be able to take a brief rest while navigating the maze’s many turns.
The maze is looking so great – I am very pleased with how it is turning out. And we’ve gotten a lot done in several months. I think it will be finished sooner than expected – I can’t wait. For now, please see our newest episode of “Martha Gardens” now streaming on The Roku Channel. In this show, I’ll take you to my Christmas tree farm in one of the back fields and show you how to properly move an established tree into my pinetum, an arboretum of rare and unusual conifer trees.