The sign by the roadside said it all — ‘Australian Red Cedars $1’. I took my 5 cm cedar home and transplanted it from his egg-cup size holder into a larger pot; that was twelve years ago. My job at the time had me out of Australia for a couple of hundred days a year and although my pleas to water the cedar were mostly carried out sometimes on my return it would be at death’s door. After resuscitation it would slowly perk up. This process continued for a decade until it recently stood proudly in a ceramic pot at 2 metres high.
The early settlers in Australia ( don’t you just love colonialism ) raped our red cedar forests. One of our few deciduous native trees with a lustrous red timber, the bright green of its new leaves stood out like a beacon in the sea of dull green eucalypts . The red cedar forests didn’t stand a chance to escape from the axemen, ending up as a chest of draws in some English aristocrat’s home, and a rotting stump in the remains of the forest.
After a lifetime of watching the development monster, ignorant farmers and dumb politicians ravage our forest lands I recently purchased my own small parcel of 5 acres of semi tropical forest. My first act was to find a hidden clearing among the eucalypts and black wattle and plant my cedar. The first time its roots had found the real earth in its lifetime rather than a tub full of potting mix. Now, perhaps, the only red cedar for two hundred miles in the remnant of a forest where there used to be thousands.
My cedar can grow for 500 years with a girth as big as your house, who needs a time capsule or a memorial when you have a tree.