The memory of a good neighbour lives on with a tree now blossoming in Don Koenig’s yard.
The flowering plum tree was transplanted to Koenig’s backyard in Red Deer’s Mountview neighbourhood on Friday with the help of some young tree movers.
The two-year-old tree had originally stood in the side yard of his long-time neighbour, the late Joseph Jando.
Jando had loved nature, knew a lot about gardening, and used to enjoy chatting with his across-the-alley neighbour and friend, Koenig, who was also a bachelor.
Koenig had known Jando since the native of Poland moved next door in about 1980, after retiring from his mining job in the Northwest Territories.
Since Jando had no relatives in Canada and his health was deteriorating, he asked Koenig to take care of his flowering plum tree.
Late last year, Jando was hospitalized with cancer. Koenig was again reminded to look after the tree the last time he visited his friend, the day before Jando died in December.
His former house on 39th Street is now in the hands of estate agents, about to be put on the market.
Koenig was worried, as he’d seen many older homes in Mountview get knocked down and replaced with large two-storey houses that take up most of the lot.
After expressing his concern to the estate agents, Koenig received permission to transplant Jando’s tree to his own yard so he can keep looking after it.
When Koenig called Trimmed Line Tree Services, and told of his promise to Jando, the company’s owner Shawn Moore refused to charge him for the job. “It was a touching story,” he said.
Moore happens to run the Sawing For Schools program at Central Middle School which teaches shops students how to reclaim old-growth wood by turning it into furniture to be sold to raise money for school projects. Since part of the program involves students planting new trees, Moore figured this was a great opportunity to teach a couple of students how to move a tree for a good cause.
That’s why Grade 7 students Alex Potter and Jenna Salls got to help control the mechanized spade on the back of the Trimmed Line truck. “It’s actually really fun and pretty exciting,” said Salls.
Under Moore’s supervision, the students first removed a mound of earth to accommodate the tree in Koenig’s yard, then picked up the flowering plum tree and transplanted it across the alley.
Koenig said he will think of his old friend whenever he looks out at the graceful tree. “He was a good guy… a quiet guy, who really knew about plants.”