I Know Those Oaks…

A decade ago in “wetter” times, a regional grower paid me to collect seed from some landscape-worthy plants.

Included were live oaks – desert edge-natives – right out my front gate. Evergreens aren’t just conical conifers, from central NM and points warmer.

Last spring, I was in El Paso for work and helping with the annual UTEP plant sale, when our urban forester was selling a man on some Gray Oak / Quercus grisea, for his home’s parkway in adjacent Sunset Heights. From the nursery tags, those gray oaks were most likely grown from those acorns I collected.

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The house? (my apartment is barely visible 2 buildings to the far L)

Fast-forward to this summer. When I moved down, I wondered if those oaks were ever planted.

When I emptied my car to drive back to Albuquerque, I drove up my same street, and there was a trio of very familiar-looking oaks out in front of a home’s new landscape. Each young tree’s form and foliage brought back good memories. Gritty soils and oak leaf scents, the feel of the evening’s heat collecting acorns, then the cool AC in my house when I returned at dark.

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no benefits of mulch and groundcover companions, yet
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drip irrigation in; southwestern oaks are mesic when young, xeric with age…hoping to meet the owners someday, but no sign of them
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I know those leaves and acorn shapes well
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Familiar? Next to my old house, but mid-winter…and every foothill area in the 260 miles between us…and beyond

I never collected from the nice encinal areas along the Manzano Mountains – 25 miles, an Indian Pueblo and a military base between us.

See, I like oaks far more than I dislike trash trees!

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3 Replies to “I Know Those Oaks…”

  1. Awe! Interesting David…..it is as if you already started growing roots in El Paso before you may have considered even living there….

    It’s hilarious, but you’re right. Even if I move to Austin, Luckenbach, or Boulder City in ’14!!!

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  2. That’s a wonderful story. Plants and place, the right one for each along with the people who understand the importance of both.

    Thanks, I even think of our forester and others I know, who are why he picked a gray oak instead of what he might have!

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