Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Tree

A few years ago, before I was adopted, Mom found a nursery that was going out of business. She bought three beautiful trees - a flowering pear, a bottle tree, and ...something deciduous but we cant remember what it's called. Two of the trees were in 15 gallon containers, and the bottle tree was in a wood box, maybe a 20-25 gallon crate? She also bought some shrubs for our slope, and two really pretty bushes for the back planter. Everything is doing really well and nothing died. Except our "Benjamin Button" tree is growing backwards.

The one tree called a bottle tree never gets any bigger. Nope. It just gets shorter. She goes out and looks at it and goes "Tsk tsk!", and wonders how a tree can get smaller instead of bigger. The base of the trunk is bigger, and it keeps getting new leaves on the top, but it never grows.

(See? Short tree, fat trunk! Click on the picture and you'll see!)

The owner of the nursery is one of our clients and he came in last week. When we told him about our shrinking tree, he said he would come look at it. "Yup!", he said. "It's getting smaller!". Mom had nightmares of a herd of gophers living underneath it and taking bites out of the root system, but Pat (the nursery man) said, "No, that's not it!". She told him that she had visions of it slowly sinking into the ground like one of Elmer Fudd's carrots, but Pat said "Nope. That's not it, either!".

He came to the house the other day and put something called "gypsum" on it, and put a lot of fertilizer on it, too. If you ask MEEEE, it doesn't look any different, and I told him so. "Wait until after spring", he said. "Maybe you'll see a difference then."

Gosh, I hope so. I never heard of a tree getting smaller before. Mom said she had two other trees there and both of them died. I guess a shrinking tree is better than a dead tree, huh?

Optimistically yours,



FleasGang said...

that's the craziest thing! I wonder if you put some of that gypsum on yourself, if you'd be bigger in the spring? We planted two dogwood trees last spring right next to each other. One is big and full of leaves and the other looks like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. We're hoping it makes it next year.


Sparky said...


Huh, that certainly is an interesting tree, I've never seen one so short with such a fat trunk before...


Lacy said...

w00f's MM, me had mama do some internet surfin fur u.. did u no u pose to put bottles on the limbs..its to git rid of is what it said..

Once a common site in the Southern landscape, the bottle tree is now an increasing rarity as ancient folk beliefs and customs fall from common usage. The origins of the tree go back to the 9th century Congo where hand-blown glass was hung on huts and trees as a talisman against evil. The practice consists of removing the foliage from a tree (preferably a cedar because all the branches point heavenward) and placing the tree in the yard of the house. The bare branches are then covered with colorful glass bottles that attract any evil spirit that may be lurking near the house. The spirit becomes mesmerized by the play of sunlight through the colorful glass and becomes trapped inside the bottle. When the wind blows past them, the moans of ensnared spirits can be heard whistling on the breeze.

heehee mayb u need to git sum bottles..lemme no how it goes..

b safe,

Anonymous said...

Well, since the other 2 trees your mom put there died, you might want to get the soil tested. It might be a "bad spot" or something.

Dogwood is so pretty (DOGwood, tee-hee) and it's not supposed to grow in California, but we found someone who has managed to raise dogwoods that do fine here, so we have one, and it's beautiful. I water it every chance I get. ;)


Doug said...

Here is some good advice, we are specialist Bottle tree growers. Feed the tree alot of Nitrogen and low Phosphorus. Make sure the tree is not sitting in water but well drained soil. The tree shown looks like a Kurrajong--same family as the genuine Bottle tree. For alot more info go to

Raising Addie said...

Yappy Barkday Mary-Margaret!!