In the midst of planning my vegetable beds for spring, I made an order with the National Arbor Day Foundation for trees to add to my Food Forest.
I paid my $10 membership fee and picked the free wildlife assortment of tree seedlings.
Two Arrowood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), a deciduous shrub hardy in zones 2-8. It is an eastern woodlands species loved by wildlife. It is pretty when in bloom and has blue/black berries in the fall. Fall colors are gorgeous in yellow/red/purple. This one suckers when happy so give it plenty of room.
People can eat the fruits raw or cooked. I plan to dry some for adding to my winter teas, a pint is about right. I would want more to make wine. The seeds are big so use a lot of them. It is also a medicinal.
Because I am farther west in dry New Mexico, I will find a damp spot for this Viburnum on the north edge of evergreens where snow accumulates and keeps the underlying soil moist between rains. In summer the evergreen shade slows evaporation.
One Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa), a mossy cup white oak up to 120 feet tall. It is very drought tolerant but will grow slowly in dry conditions. This is my favorite oak, it is a white oak and so has less tannin in the nut. A sweet nut sport was found, and when it goes on the market, I will buy one. As it, Bur Oak in an important wildlife food, and if you soak the tannins out, for humans too. Brer Bear will love this one, acorns are his favorite to tank up on before he hibernates.
I also got some Bur Oaks associates: Red Maple, 2 Hazelnut, and American Hawthorn. All are excellent wildlife food and are edible for me too. I will plant these in one area.
I will receive Colorado Blue Spruce and plant it high up the hill where there is more snow and moisture. If it lives, you will eventually see it from miles away as a blue beacon against the drab olive green pinyon-juniper forest.
Gray Dogwood, Northern Red Oak, River Birch, Sargent Crabapple, and a Tulip tree round out things.
I added an Eastern Redbud because it has edible seeds. It is, of course, beautiful when it blooms in the spring. If you grow it, you have a massive legume harvest with no work other than picking the seed pods.
Two Forsythia for bringing branches inside in late winter for forcing tall sprays of acid yellow blooms.
Although these will do well in the western half of the United States, I hope the National Arbor Day Foundation will eventually open a facility in the western half of the US and start western species as well.
All for $36. I have always liked the Arbor Day Foundation, and usually get trees every year. I have planted their trees in Texas, Washington, and New Mexico. Last year I got the flowering set, and was surprised I lost only 3 of 10. Instead of Redbuds they put in 3 Sargent Crabapples, which the birds like, so we’ll see how it flies this year.
The National Arbor Day Foundation is a good place to get wildlife friendly tree seedlings for a food forest. They are the upper and middle layer of a wild food forest and feed humans easily enough.