What comes in a box this size?
Believe it or not, folks, a mail-order tree. If you've ever ordered a tree from an online source you've probably gotten a bare-root whip a couple of feet high, or maybe something in a little pot the size of a Dixie cup. But Lucile Whitman of Whitman Farms in Oregon is out to change the way we think about mail-order plants. She grows specialty trees in root-control bags so she is able to send out specimens 5 or 6 feet high with a decent caliper and impressive root systems. I found her because I was looking for a particular cultivar of pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens "Debonair") and after making calls all over the Southeast could not turn one up. My first inquiry was by e-mail, which was answered with admirable alacrity, and she sent me a photo of a tree in the field so I knew exactly what I would be getting. When it came time to order, she answered the phone herself. Taxodium are deciduous conifers so there was a puddle of soft needles in the bottom of the box when the tree arrived a week later, which didn't surprise me, but did lead my sister to comment, "I hope you didn't pay a lot of money for that." And, actually, I didn't, although, not surprisingly, shipping adds considerably to the expense. But economic conditions being what they are, there are fewer and fewer nurseries growing out-of-the-ordinary things. Lucile Whitman is one who still is.