Reflecting on My Tree — and On Other Things

Last week I wrote about reflections in the garden. I intended to continue the theme this week… and I will return to it. But this week I’m reflecting in a different way, looking back at where I’ve been, considering where I’m going to go.

 

We leave our mark wherever we go.
We leave our mark wherever we go.

 

For the last few months I’ve been taking part in a meme organized by Lucy Corrander of Loose and Leafy (great blog name, Lucy!). Starting in March this year, I’ve ‘followed’ a corkscrew hazel that I planted in 2011. I’ve chronicled its growth, the way its leaves changed colour over the months and how its branches became increasingly twisted. And every month I have disliked the tree more and more.

 

The twisted branches need space to show their sculptural qualities.
The twisted branches need space to show their sculptural qualities. The ones at the base of the tree are too close together. They rub against each other. Not good.

 

I thought I was ‘following’ my tree in the same way I would ‘follow’ a garden guru:  paying attention to what the guru was saying and thinking about how I could use the advice.

But I was wrong. I wasn’t ‘following’ at all. I was out in front, too busy talking to listen. So I missed the message my tree was sending. Help! I’m in the wrong place! Move me. Please!

Tucked in among other plants, too close to an attractive neighbour, the attractions of the corkscrew hazel were obscured. Cutting back the surrounding plants gave an open view and created a  space quiet enough for me to hear what the tree was saying.

Why did I plant it here in the first place? Clearly it is  the right tree in the wrong place.
Why did I plant it here in the first place? Clearly it is the right tree in the wrong place.

 

Reflecting on the eight previous blog posts I’ve written about this tree makes me realize that I’ve been blaming the tree for my mistake. Today, when I went out to dig it up, to dispose of it, to throw it away, I noticed a small bud. Two buds, in fact.

 

A promise of things to come.
Buds are a  promise of things to come.

 

Those buds reminded of why I bought the tree in the first place: the roughly textured, crinkled burgundy leaves. The buds looked the same, like leaves to come.

So I’ve changed my mind and given my corkscrew hazel a reprieve. How could I get rid of it? It was trying so hard to please.

In the spring, when the hazel comes out from its winter wraps, I’ll find a better spot for it, someplace where it can stand on its own. The twisting branches suggest that a place where a path splits or changes direction might do. Or maybe I’ll plant it by the pond, where shadowy branches will create reflections of their own.

A twisted tree is reflected in the water in a San Francisco garden.
A twisted tree is reflected in the water in a San Francisco garden.

 

I doubt I’ll write about the tree again. Or at least, not this year. Perhaps a few years from now, when my tree has grown enough for its merits to shine, I’ll bask in its reflected glory.

Time will tell.