We're nearing the end of the construction that will eventually provide us with two new rooms for our cellar, nearly double our office space and -- most visibly -- a new tasting room. I wrote last week about the efforts we're making to have the environment we're creating tell our story for us. One of the efforts toward making our new series of terraces as appealing as possible is incorporating as much shade as possible for visitors looking to shelter from the often baking summer sunshine. We're planting nine sycamores around the front patios and parking lot that in time will grow to provide ample shade. Sycamores (also known as plane trees) are, after all, the shade tree of choice in Provence, often planted in stately avenues on either side of country roads and driveways.
But though we bought the largest sycamores that we could find (about 18 feet high) they're still young trees and will take some years to flesh out. Because sycamores are water-loving, their roots penetrate very deep over time, which makes the survival rate of uprooted and replanted mature trees low. So to provide a more mature look to our new front entrance, we decided to move five of the roughly 150 olive trees we planted around the property in 1995 to our new entrance.
Olives, unlike sycamores (and unlike most other trees) have a very compact root ball, and so are comparatively easy to move. My dad remembers seeing to proprietor of Marques de Caceres in Rioja move olive trees that were hundreds of years old to save them from destruction. And the equipment now available to facilitate the unplanting and replanting is remarkable. The photo below, shows the series of blades after they have sliced down through the soil and then interlocked around the tree's roots:
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The first step is to position the blades around the tree's base and then force them, one at a time, into the ground, severing any smaller roots cleanly:
Then the tree is lifted out of the ground:
And driven to its new location (in this case, next to one of our new terraces):
The olive is placed in an already-prepared hole in the ground, and the blades are then removed from around the root ball:
The process is a remarkable one to watch, and the impact dramatic on the new spaces to which the mature trees are relocated. Look for the new (old) olives when you make your first visit!