I come inside after a hot morning’s work in the garden … I’ve been adding bags of manure, organic fertiliser, lucerne, sugarcane mulch, seaweed and compost tea to our main shade tree by our house to try to save it. I hope it’s not too late …
Then a few more fell and as its solar panels became few and far between … we suddenly realised our plans for an outdoor room may have compromised the shade and beauty that we wanted to sit under. We didn’t realise our actions could cause the tree so much stress. Maybe we should have kept the patchy lawn instead of pavers. Hindsight is a humbling teacher!
Highly motivated to delay any sudden death, I started telling the tree I’d nurture it back to health and make up for cutting its root off! It didn’t seem at all convinced … more leaves and skinny branches dropped on the lawn. I felt guilty and sad. Perhaps similar to not valuing your health until you get sick?
When I finish foliar spraying the kelp on the remaining leaves, I smell like some foul thing that’s been lying on the beach after too many days in the sun. I hope it’s worth it!
That’s when a visitor pops by … I walk out onto the verandah in the hope that the fresh air will disguise the odour. I move a little hoping he’s standing downwind of me. He’s either too polite to comment or ‘smell’ is not one of his stronger senses! Either way, I’m grateful. After his sudden departure, I stand back and look at the tree again near our entrance … and realise now how much I value it.
It’s a mature semi-deciduous Tipuana (Tipu) tree with beautiful lime green leaves, stunning yellow flowers and well known for the shade and attractive arching canopy it provides. It just doesn’t normally drop its leaves in spring so I’m not taking any chances. It brings incredible scale and a majestic presence, standing tall and graceful like an old distinguished gentleman.
I think of all the birds, frogs and lizards that use it for habitat and how I enjoy listening to the bird songs from the kitchen window. How it takes the brunt of the hot western sun and cools our house and provides a calm space under its overhanging branches to sit.
When I add up all the benefits this one tree provides and its true value to the property, I start to worry what it would be like without it. I saw the early signs of its stress but ignored them … I learn a new lesson from my garden about appreciation and timely action. Perhaps I’ve taken all this for granted.
I think about how important it is to have a place to relax and rest … to look at what’s been achieved in the garden and plan the next project … and the value of an outdoor room.
A Time for Reflection
Perhaps this is a day to reflect on your garden and what needs nurturing. Maybe like me, you’ve been busy and haven’t had time to look at what’s been going on in every corner.
“Maybe today is a good time to take a walk and ‘see’ your garden with new eyes … from your plants’ point of view! There could be a plant or tree that needs your attention before it’s too late.”
Observation is a key to ‘listening’ to what your plants are telling you …
- Are their leaves discoloured? (maybe they are saying “I’m starving … please feed me!”)
- Are they drooping in the heat? (“I’m thirsty!” or “STOP watering me – I’m drowning!”)
- Withered or finished flowering? (“I’m ready for retirement in the compost”)
These are just a few suggestions … some quiet time in the garden is a good thing. It allows you to observe (and ‘listen’), reflect, take stock, plan, feel proud of your achievements and learn lessons from mistakes.
“It is humankind’s duty to respect all life, not only animals have feelings but even also trees and plants.” – Michel de Montaigne
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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2018. https://themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.