Awhile back I was struck with the notion of placing a shade tree in the backyard. The summer sun is so intense out there and my old sun diffuser a huge Mango tree fell victim to hurricane Wilma back in 2005.
With the idea percolating in the back of my mind last May I was able to obtain a Mimosa tree to plant. It came from a tidal swamp up in Jacksonville, Florida.
I'm not really sure what kind it is so I just settled for calling it a swamp Mimosa.I brought the small Mimosa back home and planted it out in the sunny spot that I concluded a shade tree was needed. It was in kinda sad shape when I planted it from the trip and the heat in the truck. The Mimosa looked hopeful and was perking up when one of my dogs started pulling it out of the ground and running around with it in his teeth. I replanted it for about the third time and constructed a fence circle around it to deter the mutt.
As the summer progressed the Mimosa was growing taller and sending out new leave shoots. It was looking fine then suddenly started getting eaten by some unknown insect.
This is a picture of the Swamp Mimosa back in September before the insects munched out on it.
Today the Mimosa looks like a bare five foot pole.
So keeping with my garden rule not to compost any plant until waiting 30 days to see if it will come back I left the stick sit .A week or so ago when weeding under some hedges I found a small tree growing. I pulled it out then figured maybe this tree was the answer. It is a native and seemed to be growing well under the bushes. I have no idea what kind of tree this is but I planted it in the tree circle with the Mimosa stick.
Well it didn't take too long to figure out why this new tree was growing so well under the bush. Apparently it can't stand the sun especially the intense sun my backyard gets.
What a wimp. This shade loving Bush Tree is toast or resembles it closely if you look at the color.
Here is what the plant looks like now a week later.
After careful review of my new shade tree selections and how they have failed to deliver inside the tree ring I have renamed this circle the shade tree ring of death.
Anyway back to the story-- It struck me that something drastic was in order to get a tree that is tough enough to survive the broiling sun and hungry insects.
So after some careful research I think I have the tree selected that I want to grow here .
It had to meet the following criteria:
1- Withstand the blistering direct South Florida Sun.
2- Grow in sandy nutrient deficient soil.
3- Be drought tolerant.
4- Provide filtered shade.
5- Be something different than every other tree around here.
What I have decided upon is growing a Neem tree from seed.
This tree meets all of my criteria and is really super cool. The seeds that I ordered last week and got today had to be shipped from Zanzibar through a U.S. dealer.
Bet you don't know where Zanzibar is. I didn't-- but it is in the United Republic of Tanzania. Still don't know where it is do you?
Ha Ha. I told you the tree had to be different. I mean how exotic is that, a Neem tree from East Africa.
The benefits from the Neem tree are too numerous to list but here is a link if anyone is interested. It is fascinating reading.
The experiment starts today as I just started four seeds.
If they grow this might end my search for the perfect tree. I'm even considering tempting fate and planting one of them in the shade tree ring of death if they come up.