When I was at Caltech this past November for another Coleman Concert, I arrived early to walk the grounds and also to have another look at this amazing tree. I admit was looking for acorns. I just thought it would be fun to try and grow one of these trees. The tree itself was bare of acorns and so was the ground. Not a single one could I find, until... crunch! Oh no! I actually stepped on one before I saw it. I picked it up and looked it over. It didn't seem to be too badly damaged. So I put it in my pocket and went into the auditorium to listen to a wonderful concert.
At home, I looked up these oaks on the Internet and found that they require planting in the ground very early because they send down a very long tap root. (Here is a guide for planting the Coast live oak which I used as a reference.) I planted the acorn in a tall pot filled with regular potting soil and promptly forgot about it. Then after the first real rains we had, I discovered that it was actually growing! I suddenly felt a huge responsibility to find a good home for this plant. I realized that my front yard was not nearly big enough to let the oak grow to its full glory and after dealing with sewer problems, I wasn't sure I wanted to take any chances with another large tree in any case, especially one that is known to like to spread its roots.
I emailed Tony Baker of Natural Landscapes and offered him the tree. He was delighted and since I wanted to talk with him anyway about transforming my yard into a native plant garden, he offered to come by to pick up the pot and also see what he could do for me. We had a nice long chat in the rain and he suggested that I get rid of my lawn and give him another call. I now have dreams of planting Oregon grape or one of its relatives, a Mexican elderberry, and of course, lots of sages. But I'm afraid there is more work that needs to be done on the house, like more plumbing and then painting, before I can get to work on the fun part. Meanwhile, my gardener, without asking me, has thrown down some rye grass seed so now my lawn is a fresh spring green again. I didn't have the heart to tell him to start ripping it out.