The cherry tree in next door's garden is not looking its best, I fear.
You may be wondering why I am bothered about a neighbour's tree but this particular tree has (i)
always lent welcome shade to our garden and (ii) has been home to countless Small Feathered Friends. Even more importantly, this is a Tree With History.
I am not suggesting that Bonnie Prince Charlie hid in
a hole in its trunk on his escape to his homeland. But our former neighbours, now both departed to meet their Maker, used to call it their "bedrock." By which, as I understand it, they meant it represented the very foundation of their life together. You don't
mess with a bedrock.
It wasn't until quite recently, when I attended the funeral of the lovely lady who had been our friend and neighbour ever since we moved into our house nearly thirty years ago, that I
began to understand why she and her husband had cared so much for the cherry tree.
Every one of their grandchildren who spoke so movingly about their love for their Gran and Gramps mentioned the tree. It was
at the base of the tree where, at the end of many a family romp round the garden, the picnic would be laid out. It was in its branches that the Easter Bunny would hide the chocolate eggs for discovery once all the clues in the annual Easter Egg Hunt had been
deciphered and solved. Of everything blooming in the garden, it was the cherry tree which they all remembered. It summed up for them long sunny afternoons, home-made cakes, strawberry teas and the unconditional love of grandparents.
So you can doubtless understand why I am so sad to see what has become of the family's bedrock. Our new neighbour is busy refurbishing the house, either to rent out or to sell on. We keep expecting him to turn up on "Homes Under the
Hammer" explaining his plans for this des res or to see Martin or the Lovely Lucy trotting up next door's garden path with a TV crew in tow. It hasn't happened yet, but if it ever does, Daily Blog readers will be the first to know.
As well as interior work, the front and back gardens are also experiencing a makeover - hence attention to the cherry tree. We have been aware for some time that it has been failing and our friend and Tree-Man has done his very best
over the years to nurse it along, rather as one might nurture a failing, frail but precious elderly relative. He has done his best to keep on top of the ivy which has been slowly and inexorably throttling the life out of its host - but our new neighbour has
decided that Enough is Enough and has chopped back the cherry tree's branches with a scary vigour.
Mr B says we will plant a replacement cherry tree of our own. It will, he admits, not be of the flowering
variety as he has always wanted to grow a tree which would carry his Favourite Cherries of All Time - Kentish "naps". Only a Man of Kent would name one of its most famous cherries after a French Emperor. I have warned him that we will need not one, but two,
trees in the interests of propagation. I have also warned him that our Feathered Friends will almost certainly eat all the cherries (aka naps) before we get to them. Mr B is undaunted. It is one of the things I love about him that he will never allow reality
to destroy his dreams. Cherry ripe, anyone?!
I know what it is like to have a tree that is special. We planted a white lilac tree to mark our Silver Wedding. It flourished for many a year until a crafty fox
chewed away at its bark and killed it off. I was devastated - though fortunately not superstitious enough to believe that this unfortunate train of events might be symbolic in terms of our marriage. No crafty fox has been nibbling away at our partnership.
We gifted several members of our family with white lilac trees to mark nuptials or special anniversaries. All of these, as far as we know, are flourishing - indeed my sister and her fella send us
a photo every year of their tree in bloom. My happiness at seeing their splendid tree is always tinged with sadness at our a Tree That Is No More. Perhaps, I suggest, we could plant a new white lilac tree in our Golden Wedding year? Always supposing there
is room in the Cherry Orchard...
As for our former neighbours' bedrock - well, all is not lost. From where I sit, writing today's Daily Blog, I can see a few sprigs of cherry blossom, valiantly blooming amid
the stark, bare branches of what is left of a once-splendid tree.
As befits a bedrock, it is the triumph of hope over adversity.