But I don’t.
I feel satisfaction and a new kind of anticipation for what spring will bring next year without the two cherry and pear trees.
In our seventeen years living with the cherry trees, they produced fruit once: delicious, rich and juicy Bings, but every year after that, nothing. The gardening center said it was fruit drop and suggested boron. When that didn’t work, we took the fruit in and they suggested more light. When trimming the hedge let a glorious burst of sunshine on their leaves, the fruit still dropped in to the shade below.
In disappointment for this dismal failure John purchased and planted three small cherry trees: two self pollinating Lapins and one Stella. They’re small to look but their bouquet of blossoms holds much promise. In the spring, John sprayed them with copper sulfate, in the summer I planted comfrey at their base to help draw nutrients to their roots, and next year we’ll add nematodes to the soil. When winter weather is amenable, you’ll find John wondering the garden checking in on his cherry trees, ever hopeful for the next harvest.
The pear tree was a mistake: a very large and fast growing one! I asked John for a pear tree for my birthday, specifying anything but a Bosch. For four years he swore it was a Bartlett, and for four years it produced Bosch…I wonder how that works? In the six years since we planted it as a toddler at 5 feet tall, it grew to take over our small orchard, burying the blueberry and Asian pear in shade in the summer and leaves in the winter. And though the little Anna’s hummingbirds feast on the tough winter fruit, it had to go. It came down without a fight silently falling at the feet of its heirs.
I’m eyeing the prune plum next. We have two planted a decent distance apart, but an apple tree, a very special apple tree nestles up in to the larger of the prune plum. It’s dying from lack of shade and fresh air. This year, though my initial desire was to have it totally gone, John is only sharply pruning it, shaping it to form a protective semi circle around the younger apple.
Zack went out in to the sunny fall day and chopped the trees down the old fashioned way, with an axe, muscles and a scowl on his face. He doesn’t like cutting down trees, I’ve been preaching their importance of them for years. But food security trumps the need for just any tree. We need specific ones, that not only provide shade, oxygen and a home to birds and insects but also that generously give us food.
In a couple of years, the harvest should be rich and healthy. And though for a gardener the decision to thin plants and trees is a hard one, in the long run, with more light and air, the remaining fruit trees, 12 in all and 20 odd blueberry plants, will fair better. In a couple of years, the felled trees will no longer be missed, their roots, dissolving in to precious nutrients and life force will meld with the living plants perpetuating a healthy cycle of growth and renewal.