Saturday, September 12th, 2020
I'm in the process of felling our Eucalyptus tree. We only planted it some ten years ago, but we can now see it waving over the roof when we stand in the back yard. It isn't interfering with the telephone cable nearby, but it is moving the wall you can see just in front of it. You can see the crack line level with the concrete step. When I put a ladder there and started to take down the first branch, the wall swayed back and forth - so the wall has gone already. We'll put a hedge where the wall was and give the birch tree behind it a bit more room.
Although I can recycle the tree into a few bowls and other creations, I don't like destroying trees, but we have grown about a dozen sweet chestnuts and some oak trees which are now two year old saplings. They won't be growing in our garden for much longer, but we have some friends at Bolsterstone on the edge of the Peaks who will have them on their farm. To our surprise, there are also horse chestnut and oak saplings growing in a trough at church. The children at club planted conkers and acorns last Autumn and they have survived despite our neglect over lockdown. The willow den at church which the children planted is also growing.
We need trees. They store away so much carbon from the air and are one of our best friends against Climate Change. They are also great for climbing, hugging and swinging from!
In a month or so, it will be time to prune the roses. In the Gospels, there is a passage that refers to pruning. Like roses, grape vines need cutting back to ensure a good harvest the following year. But some trees require no pruning. Like people, they are all different and require different treatment. I remember my mother-in-law had a glorious cherry tree in her front garden in St. Helens. Every passer-by on foot or on the bus admired and enjoyed the glorious blossoming which decorated the Avenue each Spring. To everyone's horror, a well-intentioned novice gardener from the Council decided to prune the Prunus! Elva was out at the time and he was unsupervised as he cut back the branches until there was little left but the trunk. When his supervisor saw what he had done, he was mortified. It was the best tree on the estate.
Not every tree needs the same treatment in order to flourish. Neither do we. Some of us could do with shedding a load of baggage to free us to get on with our lives. Others of us need encouragement to grow and extend our branches, develop our skills and aspirations and reach our full potential. Thankfully, there are people around who can help us identify where we need a bit of pruning or a bit of space to grow and blossom.
So, this weekend, I will spend a little time giving thanks for those 'gardeners' who have helped me to develop who I am, wherever I have been planted over the years. Maybe I will start with my parents, Joyce, my Sunday School teacher, and move on through the years to the present day where my daughters attempt to prune back the bits of me which embarrass them - with little success!
So, what of us as gardeners? What are we planting to create an environment fit for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren? Trees may well be part of our contribution in physical terms. Changing our lifestyles to use less plastic or eat less meat may be another. And how are we nurturing our young folk as they enter this world? Let's make sure we know where the need is for pruning back that which will hinder their growth and where the need is for encouraging the latent beauty waiting to blossom in every precious individual.
Your love and care has accompanied us on our journeys.
Through those who love and care around us, we have become who we are.
In gratitude, help us to cherish each young life we encounter
And surround it with all that leads to a fruitful harvest as they grow to maturity.