I have three new editions to my family. Do you see them?
Let me explain. So, every time I work with the horses in the round pen, I admire what a nice space it is. The pen itself is big with nice views in most directions, and I've worked hard to keep the footing soft and safe. The only thing I don't like about it is that people can sit or stand up on the cliff to the east and the hill to the southwest and watch me. Their presence distracts the horse I'm working with, especially if my audience is on horseback.
The other day I noticed that the Palo Verde tree by the manure pile had grown and filled out so much this past year that it is creating a nice shady spot in the round pen in the afternoon. I led my horse over there and we just hung out and enjoyed the shade and cool breeze for a while. I started thinking about how much nicer the space would be if we had more trees for shade, and I could strategically place them where they would eventually block the views of neighbors who often come around to observe.
So, we picked up three trees at the nursery and transplanted them around the pen. The saleslady was not happy with us at first, and it took some convincing to get her to sell us the trees. We wanted low maintenance trees that thrive in the desert. She was upset with us for wanting to transplant trees going into summer. I'm sure she has to deal with people from snowy climates all the time who think that spring is the time to transplant. I understand that fall is the best season for planting in Arizona, but I have the time and energy to do it now. I don't know what condition I will be in four or five months down the road. Also, I don't want to plant the trees while all my snowbird neighbors are here, because I wouldn't put it past them to want to get involved and control where I put them. "But we can't see you lunging your horses if you plant those there..."
I just want the trees to be established and growing by the time my snowbird neighbors get here. They'll be amazed at how much has changed when they return. Not only will the trails they've been making on my property be blocked and covered by branches and cactus, but trees will be blocking their view of my round pen. Well, okay, maybe not by the fall, but in a few years. They do need to grow quite a bit. So, without further adieu, meet my new family members...
We researched which trees grow fast, work well for shade, don't leave a mess, and are not toxic to horses. One of the trees kept falling over in its pot because it had a root coming out of the bottom, and it fell against the barn panels. The horses wasted no time eating what they could reach, so I had to trim the branches they chewed. My husband set up a watering system, but we'll both be amazed if the trees don't go into shock with all the challenges they are facing. We provided them with plenty of fertilizer and tons of water, but so far they've been dealing with whirlwinds, hot temperatures, and no shade from other trees. At the nursery, the trees were all crammed together, providing shade for each other and surrounded by high walls.
Technically, if I just wanted shade, I'd need a tree in the NE corner for the summer morning sun, a tree in the NW corner for the summer afternoon sun, a tree in the SE corner for the winter morning sun, and a tree in the SW corner for the winter afternoon sun. But in order to provide privacy, I need one tree due east on one to the southwest. I don't want to plant five trees and have them all not survive, so I'll stick with three and see how it goes.
I had a hard time growing privacy trees at our old house. First, the horses ate them, and then the winter freezes killed them off. Now I have to worry about the summer heatwaves, monsoon flooding and high winds. This is my first attempt at growing anything outside of what was already growing here naturally or planted by the previous owner. Maintaining drip systems is a bitch because the rabbits chew the hoses in the summer to get to the water, so we're trying a PVC pipe bubbling system. Actually, I have planted saguaro seeds and citrus seeds, but nothing came of it. My expectations are low, because it's tough growing anything other than rocks and cactus out here, but I want to try.
It's funny that having new trees is just as exciting for me as getting a new pet.