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Let the dead bury the dead.
Western Koan

Wedding Favours

Pros and Cons Using Trees to mark an event.

Congratulations both on your upcoming wedding and on your foresight to look for trees a long way in advance.

While I applaud your choice, you have bitten of a pretty big hunk.

Ultimately, I don't want to sell you trees if most of them will die. You don't want your wedding day to be remembered by a dead stick in someone's yard. If we can't come up with a method that has most of them surviving, I suggest that you buy boughs from a florist to use to make green centre pieces, or use sprigs of spruce or pine as part of the favour bundle.

Here are some options:

Option A: Seedlings

  1. With enough of a lead time I can include your trees in anything else I order for my spring planting. (I buy my trees as 5-7 month old seedlings) This gives you variety to choose from. If you want to go seedlings, I can send you a detailed list of what I can get. I can usually arrange for deliver from February through early June After that, we have to repot.

Downside of February through April delivery: Planting for a tree actively growing has to be weather that isn't getting too frosty. Most confiers can tolerate light frosts anytime. But really most people won't plant the tree until they plant their garden. Call it the May long weekend or the week before. So if your wedding is the 3rd week in March, then your guests have to keep the tree for 2 months inside.

Tree will be doing a fair amount of growing in that time, and needs some root space to do that. It should be in at least a 1 liter pot just to give it a reasonable amount of soil to water. (Most people can learn to water once a week. A 2 liter pot in most houses will go a week. Smaller pots may dry out in a week.)

  1. Seedlings are typically 6" to 16" tall depending on species. Two year olds of the same species usually aren't much taller, but they have side branches.

  2. You need to decide on a way to package and present the trees. When they come from my suppliers they are in bundles of 10-15 wrapped in handi-wrap. You need to figure out a way to keep them moist after they are repackaged. (You can put them in the refrigerator for a few days.)

I can prepackage in 2" x 12" poly bags, but this requires thawing the trees before I ship them to you. A better way is to ship the trees frozen, and bag them just before the event

Labeling can be done in three ways:

You still have the problem of where do guests put a finger sized wet squishy thing. It just doesn't work as a corsage or boutonnière.

  1. For summer weddings, you should accept delivery in May, and transplant them to small pots., Because they are coming straight from the freezer, they will take a while to come out of dormancy. Basically from freezer pull to planting ideally should be under 10 days. I've done 2 weeks with good results, 3 weeks with about 15% mortality on pines. (They seem to be fussier)

  2. Getting your trees.You can pick up at my farm. Recommended if you can pick up in early May. I can have them mailed directly to you. Typically about 30-50 for any number up to around 300. (Single box) This reduces the handling while they are dormant, and gets them to you faster. You will have a bigger window to work with. If you have access to a walk in cooler, you can keep them for several weeks. You can slow down the thaw by putting them in the basement wrapping the open box with quilts and sleeping bags, with just a towel over the open box.


When planted by most people, especially in mid summer, seedling survival rate is only about 40%. They don't have the reserves if they miss a watering, it's easy to step on them. It's easy to mow them by mistake. If a dog pees on them, they are toast.

Option B: Yearlings

These are trees I planted last year in 1 liter styroblocks (13x25 inch block of styrofoam with 15 one liter pots molded into the block) They are a year older, have a more developed root system. Cost on them would be 6 each if you get 200. But at 1000 you get 20% wholesale discount. These have a more limited selection.

These you can pick up any time, and as long as you water them 3 times a week you should be fine.

However, the styroblocks don't present well. You need to pop them out and find another container for them.

These are much more expensive to ship -- That same 50 box only holds 20-30 trees.

Option C: #1 Pots.

This is the smallest size of black nursery pot you see at garden centres. 6" across and about 7 inches high. These trees are the same size or larger than the styroblock pots. Presentation is easier as you can just wrap the pot in floral foil (like on poinsettia pots at Christmas) These are 6 to 8 each depeding on size of tree. Again discount would apply.

Shipping can no longer happen by mail, but would have to be on a pallet. Last time I did this, shipping a pallet anywhere in Alberta was several hundred dollars. I need numbers of trees and a destination postal code to even get an estimate.


I can make up sticky labels, cardboard labels, or cards for each plant. These are a folded card with 4 faces. Front face is customized to the event. I've done fancy frames with "Thank you for Sharing Our Special Day" along with the date, and names, a quote about trees. We will customize this page to pretty much anything we can print. Inside is a picture of the mature tree, and what it wants, and how it grows. Also is a page on how to plant a tree, and caring for it during that first critical summer. The back page is contact info for me if they decide that their tree needs a friend.

I've attached a sample of the cards we did for V&M's wedding.


How many trees should I order?

In figuring numbers keep in mind:

This may mean that you may want to inquire if they want trees as part of your invitation.

At this point I recommend one tree for every two guests, but I don't have a lot of feedback on this yet.

Alternatives:

Choice of pot for seedlings: I can plant this year's seedlings in small pots (I would probably use a M2 pot -- think bottom 5" of a 2 liter milk carton. but made of shiny black or green plastic.) I would charge you for the price of the pot plus 75 cents for this service. (extra handling. ) This gets the seeding off to a good start. So typical cost here would be 2.50 for the seedling, 75 cents for the special transplanting, 25 cents to 75 cents for the pot. (I haven't priced them) OR you can bring me your pots. Handling might be more depending on if they fit any of my trays. (Single small pots are a real nuisance.) A seedling pot has to be a minimum of 3" in diameter and 5 inches tall. A standard tinned vegetable can is the right size, but the ridges make it hard to get the tree out later. A Campbells soup can is too narrow to pack soil around the seedling. A 750 mm yoghurt container is ideal, but of course not very pretty. Big styrofoam coffee cups work well. These give you an idea of what to look for. A good garden centre or a florist wholesaler can help you find a pot.

Transport:

Trees should NOT be transported in an open truck -- on a haul from here to Fernie they would dry out too much. A truck with canopy or a minivan without seats would work.

200 seedlings: 1 cardboard box. 200 styroblock trees -- 13 blocks at 13" x 25" Bit over 1 sheet of plywood for space. 200 M2 pots -- 25 flats 10" x 22" Full size pickup bed with maybe a few tucked in odd corners. 200 #1 pots 6" diameter = 50 square feet. This is mroe than a pickup load as a single layer.

Tricks: If you have a van that a sheet of plyood fits or comes close, we can build a low table that fits in the van. This allows two layers of trees. Doesn't work for pickup truck + canopy because you don't have enough height to work with unless you pick half your trees that are short. (White or ponderosa pine) Bring a sheet of plywood, cut to fit your van if need be, and 3 2x4's and I'll build it for you. (Takes about 20 minutes.)

1 pots can be stacked two levels deep, with the second level on the space between the first level. This requires carefull packing, and you may lose a few. Avoid bumpy roads.

Case studies:

Case #1 Crystal & Shane

 They bought 105 each of white spruce and lodgepole pine, to give their guests choice of shade or sun loving tree.  Crystal and her friends transplanted them into 8 oz styrofoam cups for the wedding.  A cluster of 5 trees were placed on each guest table.  At the end of the after dinner speaches guests were invited to take a tree to their car before the dance.  During the cleanup, extra trees were moved to a side table.  Guests were invited again to take a tree, take a second one if wanted during the dance.  The remainder were given to a local conservation club to plant out into the city parks.

Case #2 Vanessa & Mike

I had a couple do this last year: Here's what we did:

They went for option B (yearling trees) with a twist: They got 5 different species of trees. They ended up with chokecherry, alpine fir, white pine, lodgepole pine, and siberian larch. The choke cherry and alpine fir don't spread much so can work in a small yard. The lodgepole and larch fit in a medium yard. The white pine eventually gets big.

They bought a mix of blue and white 2 quart pots to transplant the trees into, and did this before the wedding. Florist wholesale store.

I did a folded card for each species with a nice page about their wedding, picture of the adult tree, characteristics of the tree, and planting instructions. These were punched in one corner. I supplied fuzzy twist ties in bright colours to attach them to the trees.

They put the trees on a side table, and explained that every guest was invited to take one home, but not to take them if they didn't have a place for the tree. Later in the evening guests were invited to take a second tree if they wished.

The leftovers they planted on their 20 acre place near Wildwood (between Edson and Hinton

Case #3 Golf club banquet

Recently there was a banquet at a local golf club. We provided a spectrum of species in #1 pots, one for each table used as a center piece. The pots were wrapped in gold foil. During the after dinner time, the trees were moved to a side table, and Silent Auction pages were place by each. The money raised went to a local conservation agency.

Case #4 Charlene and William

I had an inquiry last December but the wedding was to be in February. I pointed out that this would mean that thier guests would have to keep a seedling alive until spring -- they would have to plant it in something temporary. How many people keep potting soil on hand at home? If they aren't houseplant people, would they remember to water it? She thanked me for the response, and decided that seedling trees were not a good idea.



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