Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fort Hackberry

This is a hackberry tree in a fence.  It's been a long ordeal establishing a hackberry tree at Garden on Sherlock Street.  When we moved here, we transplanted a tiny hackberry tree from my parents' shelter belt to our garden.  We had a lot more lawn in the front yard then, but we removed some sod and mulched out an area for it to grow undisturbed by the mower.  It did fine.  Then one fall day, a rabbit ate it off!  So, the next spring we got another tiny hackberry tree from my parents' shelter belt, dug up the stick that was left from the first hackberry tree and planted it in the same spot.  We put a fence around it.  It grew nice and straight and tall.    Paranoid about the rabbit, we left the fence around it not realizing that the hackberry tree had started to rub on the top of the fence when it was windy.  When we discovered this had happened, we removed the fence.  The tree grew for a few years.  We removed more sod from the front yard and planted shrubs to keep the hackberry tree and the lilac, which was there when we moved in, company.  Then, one 4th of July, a thunderstorm swept through and broke the hackberry tree where it had rubbed on the fence.  The injury weakened the tree at that point and did it in.  We sadly cut down the tree and made plans to plant another one the next spring.  An odd thing happened.  Sprouts of hackberry trees started showing up around the tree stump along the roots.  Some four feet from the stump.  We put our fence around the best looking sprouts and waited.  The sprouts grew.  The next spring, we selected which sprout to keep and hoped for the best.  It grew big and tall.  Then, one day we realized that with no tap root straight down, our tall sprout would lean which ever way the wind pushed it and there was no way this would work.  We reluctantly cut the spout down too.  The next spring, we planted another tiny hackberry tree in a slightly different place and put a much wider fence around it.  I think it's been there at least five years.  My parents think a rabbit back in the shelter belt nibbled on it early in its life because the tree has three trunks. 

One would think that is not ideal, but that's how we usually see hackberry trees growing.  Wildlife like to eat the tender hackberry trees.  Hackberry trees withstand heat, drought, wind (unless you rub them on a fence) and alkaline soils.  Perfect for our garden.  We decided to just let the tree be what it will be.  We do remove branches at the bottom as the tree grows.  Our wider fence is far enough away from the tree that it doesn't rub on it.  Our current plan is to leave the fence there through the next winter.  We affectionately refer to it as "Fort Hackberry."


  1. Dear Sherlock Street, This is a story of true commitment, in this case to a Hackberry Tree [the botanical name of which I have no idea - nor do I think that they grow in the UK]. To lose one.....[I am sure that you know the Oscar Wilde quotation] but it really would appear that finally your perseverance has paid off. I do hope so.

  2. That is a story of true determination. You really must love those Hackberry Tree's.

  3. there a hackBERRY (fruit)? This is a new one to me, too!

    Congratulations on nurturing this tree to its current state!

  4. You did a great job on nutureing the tree back to health. It looks so healthy. Thanks for stopping by. Have a good week......Julian

  5. What persistence you have!

  6. You really wanted a hackberry! Your patience will be rewarded!

  7. ~Edith Hope
    ~Tallulah's Antique Closet
    For more hackberry tree info, I found this: Which says: Hackberry is a tree with an elm-like form and is, in fact, related to the elm. The wood of hackberry has never been used to any large extent due to its softness and an almost immediate propensity to rot when in contact with the elements. However, Celtis occidentalis is a forgiving urban tree and is considered tolerant of most soil and moisture conditions.
    Hackberry forms a rounded vase reaching a height of 40 to 80 feet, is a rapid grower, and transplants easily. The mature bark is light gray, rough and corky and its small berry like fruit turns from orange red to purple and is relished by birds. The fruit temporarily stains walks.
    They're not flashy trees. We are hoping for a dependable shade tree. We did tell this one when we planted it that he is the last one we're planting. I think he's trying to give his species a good name by surviving. :-)

  8. ~Martha
    Sometimes, we can get stubborn about things. LOL.


All comments go through "comment moderation." You will not see your comment on the website immediately. I want to read every comment. By using "comment moderation," I won't miss a single one. Thank you for visiting "Garden on Sherlock Street." Happy gardening! ~Gardener on Sherlock Street