Since I work in administration many emails I receive begin with ‘confirming our meeting,’ or something equally as arresting. Which is why the one I received from Agnes Castronuevo about a tree snagged my attention. I quote from her email.
‘In 1968 my father and I were walking along a trail at Paradise in Mt. Rainier National Park. Little did I know he was picking up tiny seedlings and putting them in his shirt pocket. He brought them back to our family home and planted four of them. Only one survived and is doing well today. Dad is gone now, and I am selling the family home, and would like to donate this tree to a local garden. Since the tree is over 50-years old, I thought it might be fitting to inquire if Dunn would like to take and preserve it. The tree is located in the Bridle Trails area of Kirkland and has been pruned regularly over the years, so it may be about 10-12 feet in height.’
The tree Agnes referenced is a Pacific yew. (Taxus brevifolia.) Having the 50-year old treasure among our 100-year old specimens seemed a happy notion to me. I passed on the offer to Zsolt, our head grounds man, and our curators, Charles and Glenn who all agreed, without hesitation, that the Dunn would most certainly take the tree, logistics willing.
Not unexpectedly, moving a 12-foot high tree that that weighs north of 2,000 lbs. is not trivial. A flurry of emails, phone calls, and internal conversations followed our agreement to accept the gift. Agnes hired Big Tree, a company that can uproot a tree as tall as a building, place it somewhere else, and make it look easy. On the second Friday in April 2016, the threads of all the activity came together.
Agnes accompanied the Big Tree truck, complete with said yew and forklift, on an afternoon that appeared to be celebrating the event along with us. It was both sunny and fresh, the kind of day that makes your heart sing without anything special taking place. Agnes was joined in watching the actual planting by myself, our office manager, Carolyn, Zsolt, and Glenn, along with a curious, enthusiastic neighbor. For the hour it took to settle the tree into its new home we chatted in the sunshine while we watched the three Big Tree employees perform their job with grace and skill. Agnes was particularly pleased by the chosen location as it mimicked the home the tree came from. Indeed, the new yew looks as though it is where it belongs, beside the road that loops past the cottage. It is a gorgeous bunch of fresh green.
The Dunn Gardens appreciates the generosity of the family in trusting us with a tree of such particular significance to them. That act is indeed a piece of garden magic.
Pictured is Agnes Castronuevo beside the female pacific yew in her new home.