November 12, 2016.

Silky dogwoods, flowering dogwoods, black gums, hop hornbeams, arrow-woods, smooth alters, fringetrees, black haw viburnums—78 in all—gorgeous field-grown specimens have taken up residence at the Quarry Gardens. The featured photo shows some of them in place along the east edge of the parking lot.

They arrived by stake-sided tractor-trailer from White House Natives in Luray on Friday, November 4—many having root balls in the range of 200-400 lbs. Here are Ryan, Devin, and Armand unloading the trailer, and Jesse keeping one of the root balls moist,

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With muscle from Devin’s elite team to unload, Armand ferried them by tractor bucket to designated locations, matching tags on trees to flags in the ground. Armand delivering viburnums to Luke.

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To dig so many large holes in our rocky soil, hand shoveling was out of the question. We started with a backhoe (pictured), but soon called in Frankie Graves’ 30-ton track hoe. It made short work of making holes twice as wide and a little less than the depth of each root ball.

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The planting technique involved positioning each specimen in its hole, freeing it of all wrapping around the top, bending back the wire basket enclosing the burlap, soaking the hole, and finally shoveling in and tamping the covering soil. (This contrasts with the method for planting containerized plants, which must have their roots unwound and spread. Here’s a report on the research.

http://www.marshalltrees.com/education/wire-baskets-why-leave-them-intact/ )

This photo shows Rachel and Luke positioning one of the fringe trees.

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Fortunately, there were only a few cases in which unearthed rocks exceeded a root ball’s volume, so we needed little additional soil—and the larger leftover rocks make nice accents in the landscape. The whole operation took the better part of the week. While we had the track hoe available, we had Frankie set a large rock into place where trees will go by Salem Road gate.

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The result: mature specimens of plants that grow here naturally—sited to best advantage. We’re wishing these beauties a good, moist winter.

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