Recently I visited my old neighborhood. I took a picture of a few trees that we planted on the corner of our lot several years ago. I was astonished at the changes...
Tree #1 and Tree #2 are both Austrian Pines. Tree #1 has less mass than its neighbor, and it is shorter, but, here are some interesting details about the trees:
Planted fall of 2007
Height at planting: 8-10 inches
Caliper at planting: 1/4"
Planted summer of 2008
Height at planting: 5 feet
Caliper at planting: 2-3"
These trees are perfect examples of what I learned from the tree expert in the Master Gardener class. He told us that in Colorado, where life is a challenge for many plants, it takes one year for every inch of the caliper (diameter) of the trunk at planting for a tree to get established. Once it gets established the tree can put all of its energies into doing what a tree does; adding height and increasing the trunk size.
Our tiny tree got established within a year and then capitalized on its root system to put the sunlight and water to work to enable it to grow taller and build a bigger trunk. I think it is between 5 and 6 feet in height now. The larger tree took at least two years to get established before it could demonstrate any substantial growth, and it's growth has been slower than that of the smaller tree. It has put on about two feet in height. Like children, the bigger tree will always be bigger than its counterpart, but the tiny twig we planted has certainly shown remarkable growth in a short period of time, and has been working hard at catching up.
I found this fascinating when I took the class, and it was even more interesting to see it with my own eyes. I did get more for my money with the little twig of a tree, however, the catch is that one has to live on the property long enough to appreciate the transformation!