Friday, December 3, 2010

Lovin' Those Loquats!

Every year at this time, there is a special sense of wonder in one area of our farm.  Up against the south-facing side of our pool fence, the row of Loquat trees (Eriobotrya japonica) open their fat clusters of blossoms.  The sweet, slightly vanilla scent fills the air on any warm afternoon.  If you are standing next to or under the trees, the very air vibrates with the humming of hundreds of bees. 

This is one of the few blossoming plants in my neighborhood this time of year and every honeybee for acres around arrives to take delight and sustenance.  As far as I know, none of the immediate neighbors have hives - I haven't seen any on my walks - so these may be long travellers or even "wild" honeybees foraging for some hive hidden in the nearby woods. I'll bet it makes fabulous honey - I've seen Loquat Honey for sale online but never tried it.

I love Loquats.  Their striking, stiff leathery leaves remain all year, similar to Magnolia foliage, and their canopy shelters many small birds during our winter storms.  Loquats have an interesting shape, outstanding in a landscape, and they are truly the queens of the fall/winter ornamental/edible garden. The deep golden orange fruits will ripen from the early spring into the beginning of summer, but only if we don't have a severe frost in late April.

Best of all, to me, is the deep, heart-felt pleasure of standing under a beautiful tree, now many feet above my head, and knowing that this tree is my doing, that it was only a small stick when I brought it here and that the lovely, nodding, verdant tree I admire today is the living embodiment of love and caring, season to season, until today. 

Didn't take as many years as one might think, either.  I'm always saddened when folks tell me they don't want to plant trees because they don't want to "wait for results".  It is not as though there is nothing to love about a tree until the day it is mature! Planting trees is like watching children grow.  They develop, they change, they suffer injury and hardship and, one hopes, recover with new strength.  Every tree has a personality born of the place in which it finds itself.  Unable to move, unable to relocate, it adapts and maneuvers itself into the best possible form it can manage.

I can't even imagine what life is like when one is not mobile, when you can only take what life brings (or refuses to bring) to your small space in the world. And yet the brave plants live, they grow and they become more beautiful than one could hope.  To be a part of that? To watch over, help and encourage such an accomplishment?  Ah, that is the highest a gardener may hope for.

When you feel the need for purpose, I suggest you plant a tree. 
For you, for the world, for the future.  Your future. Your joy.

Don't believe me?  Take a bit of time and read the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, the woman who has been reclaiming Kenya by teaching women how to plant trees.

Namaste, Sybil

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful analogy to compare trees to children! You are correct in that they both need to be nurtured so they will grow to be strong. I planted a fig tree this year. I don't know when it will produce, and it really doesn't matter. If I didn't plant it, it would never produce! Take the plunge and plant a tree! Grapes also take time to grow. I've had mine for three years and next year I'm looking for a nice harvest. We should look at nature sometimes and just think. I think it tries to show us that we should be patient.


The sharing of ideas, experience and helpful information between one gardener and another has always been the very best of gardening traditions.