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One Corner: Past and Present
By Cynthia Welte

The Shorts House under construction; the patio and tree would be installed in the foreground. The log cabin to the left is where the Shorts lived when they moved to this property.

Cal and Harriet Shorts’ home was built in 1957. As avid gardeners, they planted many trees and shrubs all around their home, including a Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis) on the southwest corner of the patio.

Sadly, this tree struggled as it aged, and had to be removed in 2002.

The Shorts House in the early days of the Botanical Garden. (circa 1992) The Pacific silver fir is just left of center.

The tree we planted in its place, Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’, is a deciduous tree with large silvery leaves. It bears little resemblance to its close cousin mountain ash.


Today, the whitebeam is a key part of the Shorts House landscape. Twenty years may feel like a long time, but it’s just the start of a tree’s life.

April 2002: The removal of the unhealthy fir tree.

As gardeners, we understand that we’re playing a long game, and that the loss of one plant makes room for another to grow. We plant trees for the future and are grateful to those who planted trees for us.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”  -Chinese proverb




Summer 2020: The whitebeam fills the corner.

By spring of 2003, the corner beds had been replanted. The fir was replaced with a whitebeam tree (Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’).

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