“Whatcha doin’ up there, Ed” my little neighbor called out as he walked down the lane along the front of my property.
“I’m building a waterfall” I called back from the tippy-top of my tallest three-legged ladder.
The thought of me building a waterfall from the top of a ladder while doing something to a ‘funny-looking’ tree in my garden was all it took to distract him from continuing down the lane with his baseball bat over his shoulder and mitt in hand. My young friend made a detour, turning to proceed onto one of my garden paths, which intersects the lane leading to my house and connecting with his back yard.
“How are you going to build a waterfall from there?” he asked.
Of course his question was perfectly reasonable; how could I possibly build a waterfall from the top of a tall, narrow tree?
“Well, I suppose that it’s not a real waterfall – you do have an imagination don’t you?” I asked. At this point I finished tying the leader of my Pinus strobus ‘Angel Falls’ to the top of the 15 foot stake that I have used to train this beautiful tree as tall as I can manage, and I began my decent down the ladder.
I asked my young friend if he had ever heard of the South American country called Venezuela. I then began to describe to him that there is an amazingly tall waterfall there that had been named Angel Falls – in fact, it was the world’s tallest. I explained that the tree I was working on, when staked as tall as possible, actually looks quite a lot like this famous waterfall with its tall narrow form and long, weeping branches that turn slightly outward here and there giving the appearance of water splashing and fanning out as it approaches the ground. In fact, the tree had been named after that waterfall.
My young friend stood listening and looking from the tree and back at me for several minutes. “Yeah, guess so.” he said, “Gotta go!” and off he ran back out the path where he entered my garden and on down the lane to the main road.
“Google it later” I hollered as he trotted out of sight.
When staked as tall as possible, this is one of the most beautiful trees one may ever desire for their garden. It will take up a rather narrow footprint for many years as it is encouraged to grow skyward. It will, however, eventually begin to fill out when the central leader is allowed to fall over and weep and flop and flow on its own. I think I may try removing the leader next year – since my tree is as tall as I can manage now – preventing significant further upward growth, while allowing the lateral branches to continue to weep down, layer upon layer, reaching the ground and spreading like a river flowing below my very own replica of the Angel Falls waterfall.