Destinations Magazine

A Poem Lovely as a Tree

By Alternativeeden @markngaz

Whenever we go tree shopping I always find myself thinking of the poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer, a poem that as a child we were made to memorise and recite over and over again on numerous occasions in primary school. Even during typing class (do they still have typing lessons in school nowadays?) one of the exercises that we had to do to pass was to type the lines of this poem arranged in a way to form a symmetrical shape of a tree.

A Poem Lovely as a Tree

Tree shopping, what a bliss!

Ahh memories! Memories of a poem that was overused in school with its simple, melodramatic lines and religious overtones written to exalt the virtues of trees. Overused it may have been (and it possibly still is) but this is just a testament to the  simplicity, effectiveness, and beauty of the poem. A big kudos and a lasting legacy to the poet who penned it.  

So tree shopping it was for us last Saturday, albeit an impromptu, spur of the moment decision. I know I just mentioned on our previous post that we stayed at home and gardened for most of that day but connected to that was the urge to start reinstating plants that will provide structure to the garden. With the clearing out starting it would also feel great to commence some planting too. And what way to start this process than to put in a beautiful tree we've always wanted to have in the garden but never had the space for it until now.

A Poem Lovely as a Tree

Given the space (and fortune) I'll happily have all of them!

This is the Tibetan Cherry, Prunus serrula 'Tibetica', a tree introduced into cultivation by Ernest Wilson in 1908 from Western China and is one the finest trees available mainly for bark interest but its graceful habit, form, and not so large size are also notable features. The bark can be polished by regular hosing and even rubbing to further enhance its most attractive feature. There is a beautiful specimen of this that greets visitors to Kew Gardens via the Victoria Gate entrance and ever since we caught sight of this elegant tree it immediately went into our wishlist. And from last Saturday it finally leaped from our wishlist into reality and into our garden.

A Poem Lovely as a Tree

I couldn't find any of our photos of ones growing at Kew so I borrowed this from Loree of Danger Garden who took this photo when she visited Kew Gardens in 2012

A Poem Lovely as a Tree

And here's another one taken by Loree (she does take fab photos!) - Prunus serrula 'Tibetica'

I do love trees, perhaps just as much as Joyce Kilmer indicated in his poem (okay, perhaps less melodramatic and religious). In fact whenever I get asked what would be the first non practical thing we would do if we acquired acres of land (hypothetical question but who knows, it might actually happen in the future) to garden I always say I want an arboretum, much to their surprise as they almost always expect that we'd say something like an arid bed, jungle walkway, or even a large pond. Fortunately for me Gaz shares the same sentiments on this matter. We'd still have those of course, given the chance but an arboretum would be really nice.

Given the generous space I could happily indulge in collecting Sorbus, Prunus, Magnolias, Acers, various conifers, you name it. Small trees, large ones, slow growing, fast growing, long lived, short lived, legacy, newly introduced, etc etc! And then underplant these trees with various bulbs that would come up and flower in succession through the seasons. Galanthus, Trilliums, Daffodils, Aconites, the list can be endless.

Snap! That's me daydreaming now! Better get back to reality and focus on this one particular plant, or should I say tree for now.

So after spending most of the day clearing and tidying up by mid afternoon we cleared enough space of an area to make way for a tree. There used to be a common elderberry tree, Sambucus canadensis growing sort of in that area and just behind the fences that provided some structure and privacy to the garden but that's gone now, perished by the fire (and rootball subsequently dug up just in case). So a replacement was necessary and this tree immediately sprung into mind. We still had about three hours of daylight left to do anything in the garden and we took advantage of this by immediately driving to a garden center within our area that we took note of before that sells larger specimens of this tree for a reasonable price.

A Poem Lovely as a Tree

Not a bad size for price and will provide instant height and impact

We got there, made our choice amongst the best of what they had that is tall yet will still fit in the car, paid, and tied up the top growth with the only thing we had available then to tie it up which was literally a tie (we were a tad unprepared) then headed straight back home.

A Poem Lovely as a Tree

Why use a rope when you can use a tie!

Unloaded the car, dug up a hole, then presto, there it was in its new home. We forgot to buy a tree stake then so that will follow soon.
A Poem Lovely as a Tree

We thought it would be nice to cap off that day by planting out a tree that's we've wanted for awhile, and also symbolic that the road to recovery of our garden has truly begun.

Prunus serrula 'Tibetica'

And there it is, in it's new home, and playing with a few plants potentially for underplanting by positioning the pots.

Yes it was spontaneous but so, so satisfying! It all starts with that beautiful tree, more plants to follow later.

Prunus serrula 'Tibetica'

The fences will be sorted out, painted, and blended away later on but for now we're just admiring and appreciating the presence of this tree in our garden

Now back to the poem, after me saying how overused it was Gaz tells me he is not familiar with it at all! Perhaps it's just me and my school contemporaries then? I'm sure that's not the case.

But for those who are not familiar, let me share to you:


by Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree. A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast; A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray; A tree that may in Summer wear A nest of robins in her hair; Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain. Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.
Mark :-)

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