New Growth from Old Wounds

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A spreading petunia to cheer you before the tree trauma story

It happened early one morning, weeks ago now. But the angst lingers.

I had chosen not to go on my morning walk and was still in my pyjamas when a truck pulled up in the back lane behind my courtyard; male voices wafted over the garden wall. The sound of a chainsaw tearing into wood focused my attention in a laser second. The violent convulsing of the Tuckeroo tree (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) confirmed my worst fears, shaking me from stunned torpor.

Someone was attacking my tree!

Now, this happened at the time I was trying to overcome my fear of spiders; when I was attempting to live in harmony with the spider strung in a web across my path – yes, the very same path to the back gate. I had been reminding myself each morning to duck under the web to avoid disturbing her, but more honestly, because I didn’t fancy her in my hair.

It’s interesting what the fight or flight response can do to one’s memory. I completely forgot about my resident spider and self-imposed spider therapy as I flew out the door, up the path, colliding with the web but intent on getting to the tree-assaulter before too much damage was inflicted. I was confronted with a group of work men, eyes wide, recoiling in the face of my onslaught, at this (splendid) vision of a madwoman screaming ‘Stop! You’re ruining my tree!’

But it was too late. The boughs which had so offended them, had been chopped off.  No amount of (unreasonable) reasoning on their behalf – overhanging boughs interrupting safe passage of vehicles along the lane – could console me. There I stood, wild, web-tangled hair in disarray, eyes brimming with despair, speechless, with brain in neutral.

Then I remembered the spider.

My reaction must have confirmed me as a madwoman. Frantic gyrations and hair grabbing were accompanied by desperate squeaking of  ‘get it out!’

The men stared in wonder as I beat a hurried retreat, trying to salvage some self respect, to dive straight into the shower. Any noble thoughts toward the spider were forgotten. I wanted it gone.

All this fuss over a few branches you might ask? Well, I’ve been having the Tuckeroo tree carefully shaped by an aborist, someone who actually knows about tree surgery. The tree sheltered a shade-loving orchid collection beneath its canopy. Now the orchids were exposed to the full sun and the tree itself was no longer ‘tree-shaped’.

 

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After the mutilation. Scars on the Tuckeroo tree

But once the adrenaline drained and calm was restored, I realised there were positives to be found in the whole sorry episode.

We are well into Autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere, so the sun is lower and not as fierce. The tree is recovering. There will be ample new growth to protect the orchids next summer. And, I will keep the temptation to trim overhanging boughs by chainsaw-wielding tree-bother-ers to a minimum. I will prune them myself.

 

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Strong new growth peeking over the wall. 

Sometimes, even when events seem most dire, good outcomes can be found. Sometimes, we must prune ruthlessly in order to encourage new, stronger growth. Or someone else will do it for us.

The tree’s wounds are healing. The scars will remain. But this is where new growth springs from. It’s not the same tree; the shorter more prolific branch-lets are stronger for the experience. Staying the same is not an option.

 

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Anaïs Nin

 

**No spider was hurt in this exercise. She appeared, quite unperturbed, the next day in a brand new web. Yes. Across the same path.

 

 

 

 

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29 responses to “New Growth from Old Wounds

  1. Oh, I have a plant that could regrow. I was going to post it on my blog. It is called the Scarlet gilia. Scarlet Gilia is well adapted to herbivory, as it can regrow multiple flowering stalks once lost. Although herbivory initially reduces seed and fruit count of the plant, intermediate herbivory and its stimulating factors could lead to the plant growing larger over time.

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    • Hello Dan, most plants regenerate after being damaged by pruning or being eaten, unless the damage is too great. Sheep notoriously eat right down to the roots when fodder is scarce and so sometimes reduce a paddock to dust in times of drought. I looked up your beautiful little Scarlet Gilia – a gorgeous dainty little flower. I’ll look forward to reading about it on your post. Thank you for visiting

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  2. i loved the images this conjured up – mad woman – I can just imagine it. I would have been the same myself. fortunately , living in the UK we don’t have the spiders that you have , so I am not scared of them.

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  3. Spiders are quite resilient, they are used to disturbances in their webs and they just, calmly, begin again – much as we have to.
    Who the heck sent the tree mutilators in the first place? Neighbours? I’d have been outraged, too.
    Isn’t it curious, though, how we become irate at the actions of human beings when natural elements can wreak the same havoc? We tend to mourn those but have nobody to blame for them.

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    • Yes, I really admire spiders despite by fear of them.
      I’m assuming it was our local council. I didn’t have the presence of mind to demand who authorised the pruning. I wish I had because I don’t believe they are justified doing it without prior notice. I would happily have obliged had I known it posed a problem.
      You raise an interesting point Val. Is it all about the tree or in some part about losing control and lack of courtesy?

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  4. Oh dear, I am very sorry for the mutilation of your tree, but must confess the picture I have in my head of you confronting the chainsaw-wielding gang has me grinning from ear to ear! Though I do sympathise with you about the spider in your hair (even though she wasn’t) as I hate anything flying near mine and had hysterics once when a June bug got entangled in my then very curly, long locks. I finally took a saw to my very much out of control jasmine in winter. Needless to say it is now shooting madly!

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    • I love happy endings Jude. Glad you could see the funny side. Took a while but I did eventually. I shudder when I think of a bug in your hair. At least mine was a false alarm. Jasmine seems to respond well to pruning. You should be rewarded with lots of blooms.

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  5. The best part was the “Get it out!” request, the flailing, and the sudden disappearance. I bet those guys had a good story to tell later at the pub. (Now why did I focus on that — please excuse — I forget myself; or I reverted to an older self that had no appreciation for gardens.)

    The petunias brought my mother to mind, long gone but still with me, especially in images of that flower, my mom’s favorite. Even with five boys tearing up the yard with their games, she managed at the very least a small row of petunias along the veranda each spring. It took us years, decades, to appreciate that. Thanks, Robyn, for the reminder. I doubt there are any gardens in front of the local pub, sad yosay.

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    • I have to laugh when I think of it Albert. My friends say I tend toward exaggeration, but without it would the stories be as entertaining? Some of the local pubs just out of town do have lovely gardens but not quite so much the inner town ones. Your mother’s valiant attempts at gardening have made an impression on you. I find it a little sad that many of the things my mother did, experienced, even suffered, have taken me this long to appreciate – well after she has passed.

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  6. Thanks for this excellent true story. I can identify with most of its parts! You’ve reminded me of an apocalyptic attack on a strawberry tree — which grew back into a perfectly symmetrical globe. I’m meditating on the moral of the tale.

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    • Thanks for understanding Clare. I was channelling my inner maniac but some part of me realised it was a lost cause once those boughs were gone. The tree is teaching me about resilience. It’s recovering some tree shaped form again. Hope the book preparation is going well.

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      • I’m still up at 3:30 in the morning. Very stressful few weeks due to editing problems with the book. But tonight the 2nd proof was accepted and I should have a copy in a few days. If all is well (no more catastrophes) I should have copies of the book in hand ready for a launch party on July 9th. Thanks for asking. Once I get this book in print, I can spend time working on completting Carnivore Conundrum, the little book in verse about the vegetarian pitcher plant. And I can begin designing the format for the latest ZuZu Tale (A Christmas one) and continue working on the writing of the second mystery in the adult series.And I really hope to get some blog posts written and to make sure I keep up on friends’ posts, too. I’m going to read your post again because the advice you give on resilience is touching very close to home right now. Thanks, Robyn. Take care

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      • Dear Clare, you’re work ethic is inspirational. Or maybe it’s your passion. You have so many projects on the go. I’m very glad if my post smooths the process. Good luck and love to you

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