We have a very special tree in our garden. Right at the end, surrounded by decking, our white mulberry tree once stood unaided.
She was ‘The Memory Tree’ of our village’s open gardens day, bedecked with handwritten labels of favourite garden memories, birthday wishes and tributes to loved ones who’d passed into the Heavenly garden. After 5 years of this magical service, it took over an hour to hang all the labels this June.
Perhaps it was the weight of the labels that did it?
Our Mulberry provided shade in the Summer. White, sweet fruits. A place to stop and rest for songbirds and pigeons. A calming energy.
Our Mulberry had already survived being burnt by the fire-pit flames (by a previous owner!), her scars were clear to see. She had survived hurricanes and storms dating back from the late 1800s. She had always been straight and true, strong and wide.
Perhaps it was just her time?
She had started to lean. We noticed after this long, dry, hot summer that the decking was beginning to rise up as she lifted. But she was only leaning a little to the left. Her long branches were beginning to cast a shadow over the neighbour’s garden.
Thinning her branches in the Winter, while she rested, would be the answer, we thought.
But then one day, we woke to find her fallen. Her only support being our neighbour’s fence.
What to do?
There were only two options — and we chose the most expensive one.
It just so happened that the tree surgeon who appeared to us was the one who specialised in saving trees. It would have been so easy to chop her down. She was beyond repair, right? It was her time to go. She was so heavily weighed down that she’d been broken. How on earth could she be righted?
Our tree surgeon, Josh, was bouncy. He was positive she could be saved. He would remove the decking around her, stake her, removed her heavy limbs, and see what would be. She was still alive, she was strong.
Then he knocked on the door. He was less bouncy. He wasn’t sure he could save her. She was really fallen; the decking was holding her up, as was the fence. Expect the worst, was his message.
He disappeared back out into the wet and windy weather on his rescue mission. A while later he was back, with a loud rap at the door. And a smile as wide as could be.
“Come and see!” he said.
Our Mulberry, after severe amputation, had almost righted herself.
She was wounded.
She was scarred, now, for life.
She was being propped up and held up. But she was a fighter.
She’s no longer a beauty. But she’s survived her first test.
The strap holding her had to be replaced by a proper tree wire, so Josh would be back in a few days. But there were more storms forecast over the weekend. Would she hold up to further battering?
We didn’t have to call Josh over the weekend. She survived.
She’s now in recovery, with the correct (comfy) wires in place to keep her standing. It’s now all up to her and the life force inside her.
Best case scenario, in the Spring, she will bud and Josh will return to tidy her up. A woman needs to look her best if she’s to be ‘The Memory Tree’ again.
As is often the way, when you start digging, you expose the rot. The decking is on its last legs. It’s been patched up and repaired for the last few years and with Mulberry falling, it’s ripped up and broken. So this whole area will have to be redeveloped.
It’s time for a change. Take out the decking and see what’s underneath. Make plans for the Spring. Plants, patios, purpose: all need to be decided.
I have faith in our Mulberry. She’ll be staked and upheld for a few years yet, until her roots are stabilised, but her purpose will not change. Fewer branches to hang memories from, but stronger.
I can’t help feeling that our Mulberry is somewhat of a metaphor for my own year: One in which I found out my brother, Christian, was dead (after 15 years of searching), yet I could communicate with him, and (equally surprising) many others in Spirit. One in which I’ve fallen with the weight of responsibility and grief. One in which I’ve been supported by my close tribe. One in which I’ve removed some heavy and negative limbs. One in which I now know my purpose moving forward. One in which my support structure has shown itself time and time, again. One in which I’ve made tentative steps to make new roots after being wounded. One in which I’ve changed my appearance to reflect who I truly am.
I have faith in our Mulberry, because I have faith in myself and my support structure. She’s as strong as I am. And she’ll be back as ‘The Memory Tree’ in 2019: stronger than ever, after her fall.
(Photo copyrights: Hannah Velten and Josh Bland of J.B Tree Care and Landscaping)