Thursday, 31 December 2015

In Which I Wax Lyrical About Trees

Well, one tree in particular. My apple tree. Fifteen years ago I planted three apple pips, just for the hell of it. They all grew. Two of the seedlings I gave away, and the third grew in a pot in my gardens and yards for the next seven years. Then we moved to our current property and I planted it in a corner of our garden. Where it grew. And grew. And suffered with mildew, rust, greenfly infestation and wind deformation from the prevailing sou'westerly.

It never bloomed. And therefore never fruited. It was a bit of an embarrassment, actually, and there were several occasions when I seriously debated digging it up and planting one from a nursery. I didn't, because it was MY deformed, rusty, mildewy, pest-ridden tree.  Then four years ago, I decided we would wassail our pitiful tree on Twelfth Night as part of our Yuletide celebrations. The Witchlets made noise with rattles and drums and shouting, I sang (which apparently counted as noise according to Witchlet One, thanks for the ringing endorsement, son!), and we soaked toast  in cider and stuck them in the branches. 

Four solitary buds bloomed the next Spring. Two fertilised, but the apples dropped off before they matured.  That year, less greenfly. No rust. Less mildew. Of course, that had a lot to do with the wormwood growing in a pot under the tree than the wassailling... Or maybe not. I took to going out and touching the tree, talking to it, leaving offerings just as I do at certain trees in 'my' woods.

I have wassailed my tree every year since.  The next year, I had a tree covered in blossoms. And it gave me four full size fruit. This year, thirty clean, green, shiny apples.  It's still misshapen. It leans. It gets the occasional patch of rust, powdery mildew and greenfly. But it's mine. Nurtured from seed, for fifteen years. It has produced fruit, beautiful, blemish-free organic apples, and that was something I was told it would never do.  Master gardeners, books, websites, they all told me it was a waste of time. It will never fruit. It might fruit, but the apples will be poor, and disease prone.  Dig it up. Here, buy this grafted variety.

They were wrong.

Was I just lucky? Maybe.
Was it the wassailing? Can't have hurt.
Was it the offerings, and acknowledging this tree as a vital part of my life? Who knows? (Only my tree, and she's not telling.)

But there's a lesson in there somewhere. Sometimes, don't give up. Don't listen to all the advice. Take your time. Trust your instincts.

Prove the nay-sayers wrong. 

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