When I first saw Gloria, she was confined to a pot. She, along with a whole bunch of other plants and garden thingies, was on her way to the dump as her family scurried to empty out their home which had just sold. I thought she was some kind of palm, not looking closely. Threw her into the bed of the truck along with some sorry-looking geraniums and a few succulents. Didn’t know what I was going to do with them, but it just didn’t seem right to send these struggling little life forms to the dump, so they came back to the farm for assessment and reassignment.
She sat in her pot for a week or two, until my Kelly (daughter/garden designer/wise person) could take a look and tell me what to do with her. “Ma, it’s a Norfolk Pine! It’s a tree! You can’t keep this in a pot or in your shade garden.” “But she’s so graceful, and looks kinda like a fern.” “Ma, she’s gonna be 150 feet tall.” “Oh.” Then it occurred to me that a space had opened up on the hillside in the back pasture where I’d payed some real money for a young redwood tree, lovingly planted it to complete a tree screen, then neglected to water it. End of redwood tree. Now I would try for redemption with my rescue tree, not really thinking through — as usual — what was involved.
Gloria, as she came to be known, named for Jodie’s mother (who chained herself to a lovely old tree which was scheduled for removal to make way for a new post office), was planted on the hillside, a few feet away from the skeleton of the dead redwood tree which I’d never had the heart to remove. We had some good rain after that, so no worries for the first week or two. Then came the part where I realized I had to trudge up that hill with the watering can every couple of days to keep her going. July weather arrived, this year as warm and dry as you’d hope, and I’ve managed to get up that hill every few days and douse her. She began looking a bit weary and yellow around her skinny little base, though, and the tips of those few branches, underdeveloped little furry arms, were dying back. It might have been a little discouraging for her to look up at the wall of maturing redwoods she was now standing next to. You could just imagine her little bony green self sighing as she gazed up at her magnificent pasture-mates, so much greener and so tall, and of course they were part of a forest they were all related to.
Then, as I was watering her yesterday, I realized she’s grown a new top! There it was, as jaunty and feathery as a new green chapeau. And then, looking closely, what was that sticking out of her main stem, right next to the ground? A new stem. Hmmmmm.
Mizz Gloria obviously has a plan of her own, this Southern Belle of a tree start. Will she find her way among her straight and solid Coastal Redwood companions? Stay tuned. It’s gonna take a while to see where this goes.
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