Photo courtesy Flickr
Trying to recreate the atmosphere of untouched wilderness, I set a small Christmas Colorado spruce into the rotting stump of a good-sized hemlock. I knew that the extravagant root systems of rain forest trees derive from their origins in nurse logs, hemlocks that have fallen and decayed into volunteer planting beds for fallen cones.
I let the spruce fend for itself and simply subtracted invasive species from the nurse stump. The spruce slowly developed into an interesting three-foot tree. Apparently, local raccoons find the planting as interesting as I. Someone has been clawing at the stump, presumably in search of tasty grubs. Last week the spruce toppled and came to rest on its side at the foot of its original matrix. It looks as if the spruce’s root system is tenacious enough to keep it hydrated over winter. I’ll continue to keep an eye on it. If it survives, the branches will develop an interesting sequence of verticals.