Moving the Giants

12-21-18 Update

Dear Friends,

Here’s what’s happened with the Moving the Giants project that you first read about in the Seattle Times and other area newspapers this summer. 

  • We now have 2000 Coast Redwood saplings and Giant Sequoia seedlings at the Seattle Parks greenhouse – see details below.
  • We are starting a nonprofit whose mission is to propagate and plant many more thousands if not millions of redwoods and sequoias in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The purpose of the nonprofit would be to support a “community of action” — the people across the Pacific Northwest who want to pursue this mission.  That is, people who want to produce trees (by cloning or from seed), people who want to find the right places to plant them, those who want to dig holes and put these trees in the ground, and people with ideas and energy to pursue this mission in other ways.  One example of this “community of action” (in action) was the recent work of a group of volunteers in repotting 1000 root-bound sequoia seedlings into 1-gallon pots after the trees arrived in Seattle. 
  • I’ll keep you posted on our nonprofit’s incorporation progress, but let me know now what you think of the idea and your ideas for pursuing this mission.
  • In December we received 1700 sequoia seedlings and 300 redwood saplings from Archangel Ancient Tree Archive which are housed at the Seattle Parks greenhouse/nursery.  Photos of these trees can be viewed here.
  • These 1700 seedlings and 300 saplings that arrived in December will be kept at the Seattle Parks Department greenhouse/nursery for several months or even a year or more so they have a chance to adjust and grow.  These trees have lived their entire lives indoors in a Michigan warehouse with artificial lighting, heating (70 degrees) and humidity.  This is their first experience of natural light and variable temperature and humidity. (More details below).
  • The 100 (6-16’ tall) living archive redwood trees are stuck in Michigan until Spring 2019 due to the stringent requirements for them to be certified free of Japanese beetle larva.  And even then, there is no certainty that they will be able to make their way to the West coast.

Some additional background. 

During Sep/Oct 2018, survival and growth data was gathered from the 30 communities that planted the first shipment of 350 redwoods that arrived in 2016 as part of Phase 1.  As it turned out, there was a big difference between the redwood saplings that got planted out in the first 3-4 months after arrival versus those that were kept in nurseries for several months to a year before planting out.  In general, the ones that were kept in nurseries for several months grew almost 3X faster than the ones that got planted out in the first 3-4 months.  The ones held in nurseries several months before planting also had a 20% better survival rate (87% vs 67%) than the ones planted out in the first 3-4 months, which is a big lesson learned and informs our future planting strategy, which is illustrated in the following Planting Timeline.

For the reasons described above and illustrated in the Planting Timeline, these redwoods and sequoias cannot be made available at this time.  Please know that I am determined to do my best on behalf of the trees and the people who want to plant them.  I hope you’ll be patient and stay in touch.  We’ll let you know when the trees are ready for planting.

Again, I’d like to hear from you about the Community of Action that I’ve described earlier and about any ideas you have for pursuing its objectives.

Philip Stielstra


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