Trees as living legacies

One of the things that fascinates us the most about trees is their incredible potential for longevity. While there are a few short-lived trees, many of your “normal,” run-of-the-mill trees outlive the average person by fifty to a hundred years. And this doesn’t even consider the extraordinary, ancient trees that live a thousand years or more—in fact, some of the oldest living organisms on earth are trees.

mighty-oakKnowing this, it makes sense that people throughout history have been drawn to the planting of trees to mark significant occasions in our lives, or to honor, celebrate, or remember a loved one. Some people choose to plant a tree for each of their children— a great excuse to collect a few photographic memories of each child next to his or her tree, comparing their changing heights through the years. Some plant a tree in honor of building or moving into a new home. Another wonderful idea that’s gained popularity recently is a wedding unity tree ceremony, whereby the bride and groom combine the soil from each of their homes into the pot of a single tree, a noble Douglasfir, perhaps, then plant it in their new home in honor of their marriage. What a great symbol for a couple’s growing love. Still others find trees they plant to be the perfect lasting, living memorial to someone they have lost. In honor of a parent who has passed away, one might plant an oak tree where, when it becomes older, they might visit to sit peacefully in its shade and feel connected to their loved one. After losing a pet that was part of the family for many years, a dogwood could be a beautiful reminder of the beloved playmate and companion every time one sees its flowers.

Beautiful Flowerind TreeMany of our members and those who have bought trees from our nursery have shared such stories with us, and it inspires us to see how meaningful a tree can be to someone in celebrating life. Below we’ve included a few that tugged on our heartstrings.

“The look on my little great-nephew’s face when we planted, and watched grow, my first free 10 trees one spring, was priceless. Happy to say, just as you promised, that all 10 trees are growing, strong and healthy. My nephew told me that after my passing, he will come back and sit under these trees and reflect on our relationship as friends, and fellow lovers of nature. My dad did this for me also–he received these trees from Arbor Day and planted a spruce for me. To this day, so many years later, I feed the wild birds with a half dozen feeders hanging from this tree’s limbs. As I watch the birds and look at the now big spruce, I think of my Dad and our times in nature, through this spruce we are always together. ” –Member Kevin Warriner

“When my first daughter was born…we really wanted to plant a tree in celebration of our daughter’s birth. We ordered a Weeping Willow. The young tree grew vigorously and very soon was taller than Sara and not long thereafter, taller than us. Our extended family would come for visits and comment on how quickly Sara’s tree was growing. We too have been truly impressed with its development. We recently celebrated Sara’s sixth birthday. It was a warm September day, particularly in the sun. We quickly decided (having originally placed our picnic table in the middle of the yard) to move it under Sara’s tree, retreating from the hot sun. We all expressed our amazement that we were all able to celebrate Sara’s birthday under a tree that was planted as a whip the same year she was born!” – Member Scott Davis

“…My father and mother, when she was living, used to love to watch the squirrels climb their Baldcypress tree…. I decided that I would like to plant one of my Baldcypress trees on the grounds near where she is buried. It is nearly seven feet tall now. My father has visited me a few times in the past few years and was surprised and very happy to see that I had planted the bald cypress near their final resting place.” – Member William R. Thorne

“When my husband and I thawed the top layer of our wedding cake for our first anniversary, we were disappointed that it was inedible. Not wanting to just throw it away, we decided to bury it with much ceremony, in our back yard beneath our cherry tree. Now each year I SWEAR the white blooms smell like cherry…and vanilla! Eleven years and counting!” –Facebook fan Mary Croslin Wright

We understand, however, that sometimes planting a tree where you live isn’t always possible. Luckily, an alternative exists to plant trees in a forest in need. With our Trees in Memory, Trees in Celebration and Trees for Pets programs, our members are planting trees in honor of people and animals they love.

Have you ever planted a tree in memory or celebration of a loved one or to commemorate a special time in your life? We would love you to share your story in the comments.