Does anyone know how to find a good home for a tree? It’s getting to be time to let go of my Norfolk Island pine. And just thinking about it almost makes me cry.
This tree has been part of the family since 1991, when Kathryn gave it to me as a Christmas present. We were in AP US History, juniors at SLVHS, and I still remember how spindly the poor thing was. Kathryn had hung an ornament, not a large one, just a red ball, probably ping-pong ball sized, on its one branch; the weight pulled the whole tree off its center.
The tree lived at my parents’ house while I went to college. I remember getting excited the first time it made four simultaneous branches. After Ian and I moved to San Francisco, the tree came to live with us. It started out sitting on a milk crate, but had grown enough to be set on the floor by the time we left for Los Angeles. I drove the tree back to my parents’ house, taking the back roads the entire way because the tree was taller than the cab of the truck and I was worried the wind whipping by would snap out the top.
It came back to live with us when we moved to Seattle. The tree was large enough by then to be an awkward house companion, but we found a corner for it anyway. It’s thrived in our sunroom, got to be decorated one year for Christmas, and is now approaching the ceiling. The tree is nearly 20 years old; it’s been around for more than half my life. And I can’t just put it out for the City to haul away.
Norfolk Island pines are semi-tropical, despite the name which always makes me think of Maine for some reason, and they aren’t pines. In their natural habitat, they can grow to 150 feet or so. But they do all their growing at the top, making it impossible to pinch it back or prune it to maintain a house-sized habit; take out the top and at best you’ve ruined the shape of the tree. At worst, you kill it. And it wouldn’t survive outside here in Seattle, with our decidedly non-tropical winters.
I’ve talked to Swanson’s and they can’t take it; apparently there are rules about such things. It needs a warm space with a large vaulted or cathedral ceiling, which rules out most residences (although if anyone knows someone with such a house who wants a tree, send them my way). Ideally, I’d love to find a large building (mall, office building, city hall, community center, etc) that has a super tall ceiling and a plant staffperson. (I’m afraid to just donate it to just anywhere, especially if it’s somewhere I’m likely to go, and find it neglected.)