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The Spruce is Loose! - Sep 26, 2011

by Mark Konlock, Director of Horticulture, Green Bay Botanical Garden


Due to construction of the new Donald & Patricia Schneider Education Center and the passion for conifers of horticulturist Loretta Dorner, GBBG had to recently move a large dwarf Serbian spruce. A large dwarf may sound like an oxymoron, but we were interested in saving this beautiful conifer.

As luck would have it, we were close to one of the better times to transplant conifers – early fall. The other time would be in spring. We first hand dug to find a recently placed electrical line along the path in front of the Emil & Gail Fischer Visitor Center.  Next, we dug a trench all around the tree and also tied up the lower braches in order to dig closer to the trunk and allow the tractor to under-cut and lift out the plant. Interestingly, there was a layer of sand about a foot below the topsoil. Most of the roots were in this one foot layer of soil.

The most exciting and skilled part of the job came when our master heavy equipment operator Dave Barkow came in with the 60 horsepower Case Farmall IH tractor. He undercut the tree at the topsoil/sand interface while avoiding the underground electrical line which was de-energized of course. Dave estimates the tree and root ball was at least a ton. Once dug, Dave gingerly drove the plant to its new location outside the west entrance to the Color Foliage garden.

At first we nicknamed the plant the leaning Serb of Green Bay, since it was kittywampus, but it has now been staked and looks like it has been there for quite awhile. We have been watering the tree daily, and with a little luck we hope to have saved one of the largest dwarf Serbian spruces in Wisconsin.

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