Sunday, August 9, 2009

Curb Appeal: beloved trees, bumper crop, bumblebees

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.)



bookmanie said...

Hello Lydia. Your trees are beautiful. I am not a specialist in agronomy, but suggests that the strain of your tree that was cut in the past, has always embryonic segments. These segments are programmed memory of your tree. They have the ability to regenerate the same tree. In vertebrates, the salamander is still embryonic segment, so that when it loses a leg, this segment will always remember the missing member. A recovery process is automatically launched. Recoupled the leg as it was. Bookman.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Gorgeous pictures and a nice text!

Di said...

I had never heard of, or seen, a silk tree. Thank you for putting it out there. Loved the photographs of everything else too :)

English Rider said...

Bountiful images. Thanks for the link and for confirming this is a silk tree, not a mimosa. (mimosa family though). Both are fast growing trees.
It is good to have a link to your mother's memory through such a beautiful tree spirit.

Erin Davis said...

I understand your feelings about your trees. The tree in the front yard of our CA house was beloved by my whole family. One of the first things the new owners did was chop it down. I still mourn when I think of it.

Darlene said...

What luck to have so many beautiful and bounteous trees in your yard.

Your picture of the Silk Tree looks exactly like the Mimosa I had in my last yard, They call them Mimosas here and I had never heard it called a silk tree. Maybe both names are wrong, but they are beautiful.

We planted ours about 15 years before it died. I don't know what killed it, but it got brittle and branches broke off in every wind storm.

Lydia said...

@bookmanie- What an interesting comparison between the shoots from the old trunk and the legs of the salamandar! Have a great week ahead.

@Phivos- Thanks! I'll be by your blog on Monday, as my husband is involved in a computer project that appears to now stretch into the wee hours of Monday morning for him. I have only moments here to read/answer comments. :)

@Di- How good it is to share the Silk Tree with you. They must not grow in Australia...or Belgium either. Am anxious to read how your trip home to Australia was for you.

@English Rider- I'll be calling back for an autumn visit the same arborist who was here years ago, as we have a maple and two birches that are out of control and need to be limbed. I'll definitely have him check the new Silk Tree, and will ask more questions about the Silk/Mimosa family then. :)

@Erin- O, I could cry thinking about how that must have made you feel when the new owners cut down your beloved tree. I feel such a sense of protection over the trees in our yard. Raccoons are again climbing our three Sequoias and the bark is breaking off in chunks. I'll have the arborist check that out; when he did so before he said the trees can take it...

@Darlene- See my comments above to English Rider. I am curious to know more about this family of tree. Do you still remember the bouquet of the pink puffs, and how the scent perfumes the air all around? I love that, and it sure does attract the bees and hummingbirds. I'm not sure, but I think the hummers may have nests in the Silk Tree.
I appreciate your information about the age/condition of your tree at the end of its life. Gives me something to go on.

Looking to the Stars said...

I love the fact that the tree started growing again. So wise of you to leave the stump. We have an aspen tree that we are going to have to cut down. We have nursed him for 10 years but he did not have any leaves this year. We too, are leaving a stump but before we cut him down, I'll have us light some incense and spend time with him. Thank you for your insight and sharing it :)

M Riyadh Sharif said...

Omg!! Too much fruit for a tree!! I have never seen this many fruits in a single tree! And the trees look nice too. Feeling sad for the old one which is gone. And believe me, your trees got nice stories! :)

Lydia said...

@Looking to the Stars- I love that you refer to your aspen tree as he. Maybe you can tell that it is the male tree (as we can definitely distinguish in our one male and one female birch trees), or maybe the tree simply gave off male vibes. He will appreciate the incense and he'll know you are there.

@Riyadh- It really is too much fruit for one tree, and you should see the size of the plum tree. It really isn't very big, maybe 20 feet tall. There is so much fruit that one of the main boughs has split at the trunk...near the top where we can't access it easily. I'll ask the arborist to take care of that in the fall. This is one brave and generous golden plum tree...and I failed to mention that the fruit is so delicious!

Mariana Soffer said...

Very nice and beautifull post friend
Congratulations on your blogging new adventures, they seem to be really exiting.

Silk tree, also known as mimosa, or silky acacia, is a small to medium-sized tree that can grow up to 20-40 feet tall. The bark is light brown, nearly smooth, and generally thin with lens shaped areas along the stem. The attractive fern-like leaves of mimosa are finely divided, 5-8 inches long by about 3-4 inches wide, and alternate along the stems. Silk tree has showy and fragrant pink flowers, about 1½ inches long, that resemble pom-poms and are arranged in panicles at the ends of branches. Fruits are flat, straw-colored pods about 6 inches long containing light brown oval-shaped seeds about ½ inch in length. Pods ripen in August to September and begin to disintegrate soon after, but remain on the trees into wint

Be well

La Belette Rouge said...

It must be amazing to have such gorgeous trees in your own back yard. I am going to go to your last post and see if I can find a virtual/bloggy home with lots of fruit trees.

He-weasel's family is doing a remodeling and they have to cut down a long loved orange tree. Everyone is so sad about losing this beautiful friend.

Melinda said...

Hi Lydia,

What lovely photos of your beautiful trees! I love pears so much and what a treat it would be to be able to just pluck one from the tree when you desired! We have a lovely apple tree that produces some really great apples in the fall. And on our property in Maine, we have tiny, wild strawberries that are so sweet and just bursting with flavor.

How wonderful that the shoot appeared! I always take things like that as some kind of sign. :)

Take care,


Margo said...

those trees are magical. So pretty and free fruit! I like you talking about the trees in relationship to your mother :)

Lydia said...

@Mariana- You gave an encyclopedia type description of the Silk Tree. It's interesting that I've never thought of the pod as the fruit of the tree before, but that's what it is. I'm still confused by what I hear from learned people, some who say the mimosa is the same as the Silk Tree and some who disagree!

@La Belette Rouge- I do love those trees, and am saddened to hear about your in-laws' orange tree. I can't imagine giving up on a friend that provided food. :(

@Melinda- As soon as you mentioned your tiny strawberries I thought they must be similar the ones that grown around this area. We had a couple of the plants at our house when we first moved in, but I didn't study how to keep them (something about "runners" according to a nurseryman I consulted). Now it's too late, I'm afraid.

@Margo- Love your new picture...lookin' very chic!
It is special the way the Silk Tree has become a celebration of her for me.

Ande said...

I loved your story about the Silk Tree and its re birth.

Removing a tree is a very emotional thing. I remember an official from my city council saying what he thought of this to the local newspaper some days ago: “you can’t take away a single tree without having people complaining, why is this such an emotional thing?”

Lydia said...

@Ande- So glad you enjoyed the story.
The quote you gave has a good question and I've thought about it since I first read your comment (sorry to respond a bit late). What I'm struck by is that people complain about the removal of a single tree because in that single tree they have come to appreciate that there truly is no other tree like it in all the world.....

Ande said...

Hi again Lydia,

I'm sorry for being absent most of the time; work consume most of my time just now :(.

I thought about your following comment on your Curb Appeal: belowed trees… post for quite a while. I connected it in my mind to the beautiful poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson you posted: ”there truly is no other tree like it in all the world.....” and … ”The soul looketh steadily forwards, creating a world before her, leaving worlds behind her.”

The possible meaning(s) of this struck me a while ago. Mostly, for me, this communicates the need for individualism in all things (not just humans) while at the same time it expresses the need for contiuum between new and old.

I live near an old Norse place of worship called Old Uppsala (Gamla Uppsala). According to contemporary sourses there was a huge Ash-tree growing near the temple, which the norse people worshiped as the Tree of Life. I often pass an old Ash-tree when walking in theese parts, which grows just by the ancient burial mounds.

While I know it almost is impossible that this is the Norse Tree of Life it has taken the same importance for me as if it would have been it.

Lydia said...

@Ande- Thank you for being here whenever you find time. No pressure. Thank you, too, for more meaningful comments.
The area where you live sounds quite magical, especially if you are in tune with nature the way you are. I think your connection with the Ash tree you pass by is remarkable, thereby making it your Norse Tree of Life. We have a Mountain Ash in our yard! In the photo with the two pears hanging close to the ground the Silk Tree is right next to the pear tree, and the Mountain Ash is further down the side strip of yard. Unfortunately in that photo it doesn't show very well because the leafiness from the Silk Tree covers it. But if you enlarge the shot you will see a concrete bench in the background. It is right under the Mountain Ash and is the bench I got to honor the memory of my mother after the original Silk Tree had been removed....

Take care this week.

Jennifer said...

Lydia -- I am catching up, though I probably won't be able to do much commenting tonight (lots of reading, though, and I will have to return for some listening, too.) You have a lovely yard and I am so glad to hear that the gorgeous silk tree underwent a resurrection.

I'd love to have a little grove of fruit trees someday, apricot & peach & asian pear. We do have a blackberry bush growing over our fence. Blackberry grows like crazy around here, and it's fun to go out back and pick a bowlful.

Lydia said...

@Jennifer- As with Ande above, no pressure to catch up here. I'm really glad to hear from you, though!

A grove of fruit trees would be a real treasure. The pear and golden plum trees planted at curbside here would be much more a pleasure for us if they had been planted in the back lot. We planted some seeds from the trees out there but they didn't grow. We have blackberry bushes behind our house that are actually attacking the Sugar Pine tree. I'd like to get them under control to enjoy them the way you do.



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