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429-ii-002The breezy rain in these latter days of April 2009 has taken a toll on our beautiful blooming apple and crab apple trees. The ground under the apple looks like it has just snowed.429-016

The wild flowers—trilliums, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman’s breeches are fully out and some are beginning to fade. The wild ginger has expanded its territory and I think I see the tips of the Jack in the Pulpits breaking through the mulch under the tupelo/black gum tree.

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Over the weekend we had two warmer-than-normal days. Gusty winds were at play so relaxing and reading the paper at the big stone table in the garden were not really an option. (Thank you, March!)

Still it was nice to be outside without a coat.

Managed to trim the lavender, sage & the multi-stemmed sargent crab and spread a few more of my 135 bags of mini-pine nuggets mulch. As I look around I wonder if 135 will be enough. We’ve created and expanded lots of beds in the last several years!

Headed over to Ohio State to obtain replacements for a couple small trees purchased in November that became fodder for rabbits and/or deer (who knows?). I expected some damage but the sassafras totally disappeared!

Hurrrumph!

Curse you Bambi & Thumper!

Thank you to Dan Struve and Meghan Blake for making this possible!

2002 was a big year for Nine Pines Garden. It marked the real beginning of the garden. Designs were created, revised and revised again. The basic beds were created and lots of new plants (mostly trees) were added. 

One of our earliest acquisitions has one of the best stories: the redbed crapple tree. 

It started at the “Flavors of the Vine” wine tasting and benefit auction for Recreation Unlimited early in 2002. Claire and I volunteered at this function for several years. It was a worthy cause and we always had a great time. 

There were two auctions in addition to the wine-tasting—one live and the other silent. We never participated in the live auction. That was the province of the high rollers with travel packages and private wine tastings as prizes. We did allow ourselves the treat of bidding on some of the silent auction items which tended to be more within our price range. 

Among the OSU memorabilia and themed collections of wine (several bottles of Italian wine together with tickets for an Opera Columbus performance of, say, a Verdi opera) was what I would have considered an unusual item: a tree. The package consisted of what was obviously a lovely flowering crabapple tree (accompanied by a picture of the tree in flower) which would be planted in your garden by Eden Nursery. 

Malus x zumi 'Calocarpa'

Malus x zumi 'Calocarpa' 2005

There were no bids on this item when we first noticed it. The value of a tree this size (6-7′) properly planted and guaranteed for a year I knew to be at least several hundreds of dollars. Transport and planting alone would be a significant undertaking—easily worth the $230 minimum required bid. 

I couldn’t understand why no one at the event had bid on what seemed to me to be such an obvious bargain. It was, to be sure, an atypical item for a wine-related auction. But the lack of bidding interest still surprised me—until I took a closer look at the label. It read: Redbed Crapple tree

I showed the tag to Claire. I couldn’t believe it. Redbed crapple? This was dyslexia in high gear! The tree was obviously a crabapple. The rest…well…could it be redbud

As the evening wore on, we kept circling back to check on the bid status of “our tree.” Still no other bidders! As our hopes rose, so did our anxiety. Surely someone else would notice this lovely little tree. Could we be the only gardeners in the crowd? We worried that we would be drawn into a bidding competition that we would have only a slim chance of winning. 

“This is a small display,” thought Evil George, “What if I moved it to an out-of-the-way table so no one else will see it?” The tension was obviously getting to me. 

I left the display where it was. 

Time drew near for the silent auction to end. Nervous but resolute bidders furtively lurked close to their treasures casting baleful stares at anyone they sensed to be a potential rival. 

We needn’t have worried. Apparently no one noticed or cared about our little tree. 

I suppose in the end the combination of the oddness of the item coupled with the bizarre name was simply too much for anyone (except me, of course) to commit to. 

Most of the silent auction items had the advantage of immediacy. They could be carried away by the winning bidder that night (packages of 3-4 bottles of wine together with tickets to some cultural event or a picture of the 2002 National Champion Buckeyes signed by several of the players or some such thing). Maybe people felt that it was too big a risk to invest hundreds of dollars on a picture and the promise of a redbed crapple—whatever that was. 

In any case, when the hammer fell, the redbed crapple was ours! Honestly we couldn’t stop giggling-over the name-and our good luck. 

Malus x zumi 'Calocarpa'

Malus x zumi 'Calocarpa' 2006

That was in 2002. Today, our redbed crapple, aka Redbud Crabapple (Malus x zumi ‘Calocarpa’) is healthy and happily installed in the front east lawn and blooms profusely, faithfully and beautifully every spring. 

2008 Redbud Crabapple and the Proprietor

Redbud Crabapple and the Proprietor 2008

In addition to its dramatic floriferous contribution to the garden each spring, Malus x zumi ‘Calocarpa’ has performed an even greater service—introducing us to John Wade and Debby Devore of Eden Nursery who became seminal contributors to the development of the Nine Pines Garden—and have grown to be friends as well. 

What a rich bargain for $230!