When we bought this old house in 1998 the front area along side the curb was already landscaped with three trees: an ornamental cherry not shown in these photos, a golden plum, and a pear. In the side area next to the driveway, feet away from the little pear tree was a spectacular old Silk Tree. As it was November that year when we moved in the yard was dormant and we were in for a big surprise the next spring and summer, with lovely blossoms and plums aplenty to share with the neighbors. The pear tree has been shy growing slowly there next to the street and this year will be its best year yet, as there are dozens of pears ripening on it now. In 2008 we hardly had a plum. The neighbors all commented, everyone lamented. This spring both the plum and the pear were loaded with bees on the blossoms, foretelling the goodness to come on the pear tree and the golden plum's astonishing bumper crop. We've picked bags full, have shared up and down the street, Mike took a bunch to work......and there are still more plums on the tree than we've brought down.
The Silk Tree that stood guard over the side yard began to split the year following our purchase of the house, but in summer 2000 it gave forth a multitude of its pink puffy fragrant blossoms - much to the delight of numerous hummingbirds and of my dying mother, to whom I presented puff bouquets at her tray beside her chair and then, towards the end of summer, next to the hospital bed provided in her home by hospice. It continued blooming through September that year and had finally given up to autumn when my mother died in late October.
The winter was harsh that year. We worried that the tree might split in two and fall onto the neighbor's driveway at the edge of our side yard. In March 2001 an arborist inspected the Silk Tree (confirming for me at that time that it was not a Mimosa, as some erroneously call it in North America) and he recommended removal. The day the team came to remove the tree I lit a stick of incense and stuck it in the tree, then sat with my back against the trunk and sipped coffee until they arrived. One of the guys told me he was half Native American and he said what I'd done for the tree by burning incense was an important blessing for the tree.
It was horrible when the old tree was gone. We missed it so much that we decided not to have them remove the stump, and instead placed my mother's birdbath next to it. Silk Trees are known for growing heartily but we never expected that by the next spring a shoot would appear out of the trunk and that, by the end of summer 2003, we would need to use reinforcing stakes and tape to secure the young tree against the coming winds of autumn and winter...... And just look at it now!
The things we now esteem fixed shall, one by one, detach themselves,
like ripe fruit, from our experience, and fall . . .
The soul looketh steadily forwards, creating a world before her,
leaving worlds behind her.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
(English Rider recently wrote a beautiful post about their Silk Trees.
I recommend her post for more descriptive detail concerning the nuances of these amazing trees.)