You can’t always get what your want,
But if your try sometimes,
You might find,
You get what you need. – The Rolling Stones
My bonus mother, Marilyn, the mother Loved-One gave me, gifted us with flowering trees from the Arbor Day Foundation: two Washington Hawthorns and a Crab-apple. The trees were tiny, little seedlings that fit in a sandwich bag. All Together.
Loved-One and I nurtured them, took pictures of them and gave progress reports to Marilyn. The Crab-apple made her home beside our water garden with nary a worry. The next spring, we had blossoms and she presented tiny red “winter interest” to please the birds and us.
The Hawthorns struggled.
Supposedly deer resistant, the Hawthorns got nibbled and rubbed and nearly wiped out every winter. We staked them, we wrapped them, we caged them, we hung garlic from their tender branches. The deer prevailed. We remained persistent with our love.
I imagine that while their tops got nibbled, the Hawthorns dug their roots down deep and refused to give up. Five years after we planted them, the Hawthorn in the back sprang up six feet into the air. Still none of the promised white blossoms, no red berries. In the fall the leaves, which promised to be a bright orange, turned a dusty gold and fell.
“I think they’re going to make it,” I said.
“Pretty amazing,” replied Loved-One.
Loved-One dug and composted and prepared a fenced space for blueberries. They were unhappy and refused to grow. He planted a garden with squash and tomatoes and eggplant and beans and everything he could think to plant. Everything thrived behind a green mesh fence. We talked about putting in some dwarf fruit trees, like my mother had where I grew up
“We could make applesauce,” said Loved-One.
“I love pears and plums.”
Four more years went by. Marilyn passed away. The following spring, one of the Hawthorns bloomed. I noticed it standing unceremoniously, as if she gave us her splendor every year.
“You’re not going to believe this,” I said to Loved-One. “Look.”
“No. It can’t be.”
We got out our binoculars just to make sure that fog of white blossoms wasn’t some mirage of sunlight on leaves. Nope. Ms Washington Hawthorn bloomed. Thank you; what a nice surprise. Look at your trees, Marilyn.
“I wonder why the Hawthorn isn’t turning bright orange,” Love-One said this fall.
“It looks a little orangeish,” I said. “Maybe next year. It was just this spring that she felt safe enough to bloom.”
This week it rained like mad. Most of the leaves are on the ground, but the Hawthorn is holding onto hers. Yesterday, I noticed what looked like heavy leaves pulling some of the branches down.
“You’re not going to believe this,” I said to Loved-One. “Look at the Hawthorn.”
“What? It can’t be.”
“Looks like some sort of nut or fruit.”
Loved-One retrieved a round something about the size of a walnut still in the husk. He brought it in the house. We smelled it. Odorless. He cut into it.
“This is decidedly not a ‘small red berry’.”
“It looks like a pear.”
We tasted it.
“It tastes like an Asian pear.”
We did an internet search.
We checked with the local nursery.
Marilyn, or should I say the Arbor Day Foundation, gave us a wild asian pear tree. White blossoms in the spring, yellow golden leaves in fall and beautiful golden fruit. Okay, the fruit isn’t that great to look at, but it tastes wonderful. By the way, in our search, we discovered that wild pear trees and Washington Hawthorns have only two thing in common: They have long 3 inch thorns and they like sunshine.
A few years ago, Loved-One ordered a Royal Paulownia tree from one of those Sunday paper inserts. Supposedly, a fast growing hardwood tree known for its beautiful purple blossoms and shade, the Paulownia, grows 10 feet each year. That is its one redeeming grace. I dubbed it the Ugly Tree.
Neighbor stop and ask us ‘What’s that weed growing in your back yard?” The first year it looked like a giant sunflower with its gargantuan leaves. Just one stalk 10 feet straight up. The second year it sprouted two branches. We did not stake it, wrap it, fertilize it, or protect it in any way. The deer rubbed against it, but did not nibble. Not one purple blossom blessed us yet.
This summer, an arborist came to do some trimming.
“What is that thing?”
“It’s our Ugly Tree.”
“Do you want me to take it down?”
“No, we’re waiting to see what it becomes.”
After all, look what became of our Washington Hawthorns with tender loving care. You never know, that Paulownia tree just might be the money tree nobody seems to have growing in his or her back yard. It was named after a royal princess.