Why We Need More Trees

Oasis in Oklahoma

My mantra: create your own personal paradise.


Our neighbors to the south apparently have an aversion to trees, and a love of grass; at least that’s the theory; the grass has yet to be planted. When we moved out here there was a thick and continuous forest of mixed deciduous trees with a rich understory. There were wild turkeys, coyotes, wandering possums and raccoons, lots of nesting yellow-billed cuckoos and songbirds. Our own property hasn’t changed, except that I’ve been planting more trees to counteract the activity next to us: all the honey locusts, oaks and hackberries that once teamed with warblers over there have been leveled, and the soil turned to red dust and gummy mud and runoff, depending on the weather. This being Oklahoma, we can’t really complain about it to anyone, but my personal reaction has been to get online and order trees.

I could go into why it is tough getting native species here- big-box retailer nurseries being the rule rather than the exception, and woe to anyone who seeks to plant something that’s evolved to thrive in our unique growing conditions.  There was a GREAT nursery not an hour’s drive away- Warren and Sons- which propagated their own trees and made some nice finds in the mountains and wild places of Oklahoma, and they enriched the landscape diversity around the country with classic trees such as Warren’s Red Possomhaw (a deciduous holly), Raye’s Golden Elm (I have one and wish I had ten), and the famous shiny-leafed Oklahoma Redbud. Warren passed away a couple of years ago and the sons didn’t want to continue the family business, so that nursery is a fond memory. I learned the hard way that you don’t just go into a nursery around here and ask for native species unless you want to hear something like, “What do you mean, do we dig plants up and sell them?”

So, last week my order of four hackberry trees and four hawthorns arrived in a 5 foot long box via UPS- all bareroot. Within an hour they were upright in the ground, placed optimistically so that within my lifetime they might grow big enough to create a leafy screen, add food and shelter for wildlife, and scrub carbon dioxide from the air. Trees are amazing. How did we ever get along without them?

3 thoughts on “Why We Need More Trees

  1. David says:

    Oh Carbon Dioxide, how you make Carboxylic Acid, woe be the trees who wish you to be their bark, woe be the trees we uproot.

  2. Larry Mays says:


    There are a couple places you might want to check if you have a little time. I found the Warren’s Red cultivar of deciduous holly at Marcum’s Nursery in south OKC last week (and a nice Monarda, too). It looks like they might have some interesting stuff tucked in amongst their usual selection. Also, if you get a chance run out to Sunshine Nursery in Clinton. They also stock Warren’s Red as well as a nice run of other interesting things like caddo maple, fringe tree, a durable elm cultivar, some nice salvias and quite a few other native plants. They even have seaside alder which is that odd little tree found only on the East coast and down near Tishomingo.

  3. zeladoniac says:

    I’ve heard great things about Sunshine Nursery- it’s a long drive but with a pickup truck it would be worth it. I’ve been to Marcum’s but not for a long time. Seaside alder has got me curious…I’ll have to check it out. Tomorrow five Pawpaws should arrive to join the lonely one I planted several years ago that flowers fruitlessly every spring. We can talk woody perennials anytime- it’s one of my favorite topics.

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