An orange tree grows

Published 7:46 pm Sunday, November 22, 2009

“Bring me back an orange tree,” Jerry Shirley told his brother Ray when he was leaving to visit his daughter in central Florida.

His brother returned with a tree about a foot tall Jerry planted it in his front yard.

“That winter he wrapped it in felt and left it that way until spring,” Jerry said.

That was almost 10 years ago. To this day, the tree still thrives and is growing oranges.

“Jerry can stick anything in the ground and it will grow,” his wife Joanne said.

Looking at the orange tree bearing fruit in the Shirley yard, a person can easily believe that.

A giant cone-shaped cedar standing nearby also testifies to Shirley’s green thumb. The cedar was less than a foot tall, when he pulled it up one day while out hunting, he said. He put it in his bag, pitched it in the trunk of his car and forgot about it. A few days later, while he was looking for something in the bag, the tiny tree pricked his hand.

“I stuck it in the ground over there, and it grew” he said.

Today the cedar is some 20 feet tall and still perfectly shaped.

When it was much smaller, he put Christmas lights on it. Shirley said. He left the lights on after Christmas and added more each year — until he hit the wire with the lawnmower and it wouldn’t work anymore. Although he no longer lights up the cedar at Christmastime, it makes a pretty companion for his orange tree.

But, it does not help the taste of the oranges. They are very sour.

“I don’t know if that’s because it’s not pollinated, or what,” Shirley said.

But his niece is coming up from Florida in a week or two, and is bringing him another orange tree. It will be interesting to see if the oranges “sweeten up” with more of their kind growing nearby.