A neighbor recently offered us some trees because they had too many in their yard. My wife said yes.
We went over and began to dig. One tree was about 10 feet tall with a trunk an inch or more in diameter. It was more like a stick with branches as buds had not yet formed. We managed to pull its massive root system mostly intact. The other five trees included one with a single stem along with some 6-7 foot trees with great potential and few new buds.
When we were finished, some only had four or five roots and the main branch, which couldn’t be yet called a trunk. Our neighbor assured us the trees would do fine if they were well-watered and if we used a tree transplant additive to give them a boost.
This past week, I’ve re-aligned the sprinkler system to keep the new trees moist. A day after we transplanted them, I mixed the transplant formula and watered the trees with it.
Today, I’m happy to report that all of them have buds – although tiny, they are a bright, healthy green. Others are already forming leaves. We even acquired a small walnut tree. Though the smallest tree, it has many new buds and appears to have a happy future in our yard.
What does this have to do with genealogy?
We all know that our family tree will only grow and prosper with proper care. Our tree must be kept well pruned, nourished and fed. It requires sunlight and other essential nutrients to thrive.
Here are my top five nutrients for a thriving family tree:
1. Sources: Every sound, stable family trees is staked well with sources.
Sources need to be added as often as possible to prove the facts in a tree. They will stabilize and add value to your tree. Once you have a name or event sourced, move on to the next.
2. Proper pruning: Like a real tree, a family tree may need to be pruned.
Left untouched to grow on it’s a family tree own may more closely resemble a weed. Some data may be incorrect. There may be parents showing as children or long-deceased great-grandparents marked as living. Other problems may have grown into the tree. A good pruning will make the tree more sound – and much more presentable.
3. Water : Nourishment for the family tree
Although a tree may be thriving, it will begin to die if it stops receiving water. The same happens with a family tree. A neglected-for-too-long family tree is a problem, as the researcher may forget what has been done and may have to go back and duplicate research.
If you stop researching your tree, make sure to have notes ready and indicate where you stopped. Fortunately, a neglected family tree doesn’t need water and it won’t grow or die. However, the best thing to do is to keep researching bit by bit to keep your tree and its data alive and well.
If for some reason you can’t return to your tree, be sure that your notes are clear. This will help any family member who decides to continue the quest. Occasional doses of tree vitamins – like those given to my transplanted trees – will help. Family tree “vitamins” include visits to ancestral houses of worship, graveyards and home towns
4. Strong roots: The current generations
Family trees are a study of the branches – and the fruits of those branches – everything above the ground.
Branches represent those who have gone before and are now deceased. Study of these branches is a wonderful way to preserve their unique history and learn from their legacy. Don’t forget the roots.
An entire ecosystem of roots exists just below the surface – starting with you. Be sure to keep a journal, take photos, and add sources to your life and those of your spouse and children, grandchildren and extended family. If you grow a tree with strong roots, it will be one that your family’s future generations will enjoy and learn from.
5. Enjoy the fruit: The best part
Whether it’s a walnut tree – as shown in my yard - or an avocado, orange, apple or any other fruit or nut, we enjoy their bounty and shade. The same is true with the family tree.
A family tree’s fruits are its legacy – the stories, photos and histories of our ancestors. The stories of those branches above often shape the lives of those in the roots below. Gather the stories and share them with your family so everyone can enjoy your hard work in your family orchard and a rich family legacy.