As in a recipe, “have ready” your bundle of trees (Fedco coats the roots with damp sawdust, and wraps them in plastic bubblewrap), a wheelbarrow full of compost (I use seafood compost from Landscape Supply), a water source (for example, a hose), and a shovel. Dig a hole for the tree with a shovel.

Here’s the variety of hazelnut I got. Not too tall, cold hardy. Follow me below the fold as I plant #1:

Here are #1’s roots in the hole that I dug. Notice the sawdust packing still clinging to the roots; I didn’t brush it off, figuring the life change was already tough enough. (Transplanting a seedling twea like minor surgery. Planting a tree feels, one might imagine, more like birth, or at least like a penumbra of birth.) Keep the crown — the transition point from roots to trunk — level with the soil. The soil where #1 is going has been mulched for several years, being part of a flower and herb bed, and it also gets sand as part of winter grunge from the plows. So it’s not as clay-y as it might be. Still, clay-y it is.

Here’s Hazelnut #1 in the ground. I gave #1 pride of place — the best sun, the best soil, some thermal mass, the weakest competitors, like violets — because it was the only tree in my bundle that had leafed out. Them that’s got….

I dug the hole deep and wide enough so the roots could fit into it without being forced to bend. Then holding the tree more or less vertical, I packed seafood mulch into the hole around the roots almost up to the crown, leaving no air gaps. Then I layered some of the original, clay-y soil on top of the compost, knowing that seafood mulch retains water very well, and figuring the clay would act as a sort of cap against evaporation while the trees accustomed itself to its new surroundings. I figured more-or-less vertical was fine, since nature doesn’t use plumb lines, and the tree would make its own way to the sun anyhow.

Here’s a long shot of #1. All the hazelnuts are placed so that (1) their shadows don’t fall on any beds and (2) they form a barrier between the sidewalk and the patch. #1 is also at an entrance to a garden path, and will be pleasant to walk past. And I’m going to have to put those few shovelfuls of overburden somewhere; it’s no good where it is.

Here’s hazelnut #2. Its nano-climate is slightly more challenging than number #1’s, because it must compete with whatever, if anything, is still living in the Norway Maple stump to its left, and with the live Norway maple (out of shot) to its right. It’s soil is a bit worse than #1’s, because the flower bed it’s near gets less attention. However, it gets just as good sun as #1.

Hazelnut #3 gets the worse start in life: As I dug its hole, I had to hack through three or four Norway Maple roots, so it has a strong competitor. Nevertheless, its sun is just as good as all the others, and if it thrives, it will be pleasant to walk past on the brick walk up to the house.

So, that is today’s story of how the hazelnut trees from Fedco came to enter the soil of this patch. The American hazelnut is said to bear in three or four years, so countering the nut-gathering tactics of squirrels is not yet a priority. I confess that thinking that far ahead makes me a little uneasy, a little pinned down, as though to move from the annual to the perennial is to invite the attention of an evil eye. Then again, one step toward polyculture is to think more dimensionally in both time and space. Trees, I feel. We shall see.

UPDATE The shots are as usual taken with the iPad 2’s laughably inferior lens and then annotated in Skitch. However, the raking angle and brightness of the late afternoon sun were very challenging, so I bought another app to see what I could do: Photogene, which is really pretty nifty. I tweaked shots like the shot of the roots (third from the top), where the white highlight was blinding, and the hole in the soil was ultra-tenebrous, in both PhotoToaster and PhotoGene, and I liked the results with PhotoGene much better.

In particular, PhotoGene lets you adjust the “curve” interactively, by superimposing a transparent histogram right on the photo, so you can drag the control point until the image feels right. Also, back in the day, I used Fuji and not Kodak slide film, so I couldn’t resist using PhotoGene to bump up the saturation, too. Not too crassly, I hope. After all, what is a garden if not saturated? Even more niftily, PhotoGene has dodging and burning functionality: I can’t imagine a more natural process (besides using an old school enlarger) than using a stylus on the iPad’s screen for touching up. I didn’t try it, because I’m lazy and didn’t need to, but wow! What an outstanding app. (PhotoGene also has tools to annotate photos with text and arrows, but Skitch is so simple, and its formats are so well-chosen, that I find it hard to imagine abandoning it.)

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