Regular readers will know that I like to report both my successes and failures here in my little garden, but sensitive readers might like to look away, right now. Read no further, for I am about to record one of my disgraces. Thank goodness there aren't jail penalties for pot-bound plants, because they might well say 'lock him up and throw away the key' with the evidence I am about to present.
Here's one of those gruesome-but-hard-to-not-look-at crime scene photos of the evidence. This is the tangled mass of roots of my outrageously pot-bound bay tree. Makes a nice wallpaper, doesn't it?
It was never meant to get this bad, your honour. You see, I was going to get rid of my potted bay tree last year, and use the pot in which it grew to grow a fig tree. Somehow I never got around to ditching the bay tree (my garden is tiny and there is only so much space, so adding the fig and keeping the bay was not an option). The bay had to go and that was that, and its pot is the perfect size and shape for the fig.
I think 'vigorous' would be a good word to describe a bay tree's attitude to growth and life. Look at the roots making their way out of the drainage holes. Poor things, all they struck once they escaped the pot was hard, lifeless, nutrient-poor pergola-floor tiles.
And so last Saturday the terrible deed was done. The bay tree was mercilessly cut down in its prime and replaced with a young, optimistic fig tree who knows nothing of the former occupant of its cell. I always think of potted plants as 'prisoners in a pot'. There are no pots in nature, just soil. And so it's a hard life in those confined spaces, where their roots can't roam free. No wonder some plants go stir-crazy in their pot and give up on life.That bay tree was never going to give up, though. I suspect that despite the appalling treatment I dished out to it in its last years, that hardened inmate would have probably outlasted me in the long run. I can only throw myself on the court's mercy and beg to be let off with a warning never to do such a dreadful thing again. Everyone makes mistakes, and every time I look at a bay leaf I will feel a little pang of guilt.
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