Jerry Apps: Tree planting at Roshara

Jerry Apps
Jerry Apps' son-in-Law Paul, plants one of 250 trees at Roshara.

Saturday was tree planting day at Roshara; more than three weeks late compared to other years. This year we planted 150 red pine, 50 jack pine, and 50 Colorado blue spruce—all little ones six to 12 inches tall. I bought them at Wheeler’s Laura’s Lane Nursery, north of Plainfield, as we have for many years.

Ten days ago there was snow on the ground. Today it was sunny and warm, in the high seventies by early afternoon. We planted in plantations where trees have died, so it is hard work. The only tool is a shovel. Remove a circle of sod a couple feet across. Cut a slit in the soil. Insert the tree, making sure the tree is well placed, with the roots all covered and ground firmly tamped. Move to the next spot. And the next one, and finally the 250th one. A little complaining that I have more than 250 trees, that I have fibbed about the number. Understandable. It is hard work, the sun is hot, the humidity is high, and there is no breeze.

It’s a family project. Sue, Paul, Natasha, and Cory. They do the work. I do the deciding. We began at 10:00 a.m.; we finished at 2:00 p.m. I am pleased as this is my 54th year of planting trees at Roshara even though I no longer do the heavy work. Some years we planted only fifty trees; one year it was more than 7,000—I hired a machine that year.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Plant a tree, plan for a future.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to