Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blight of the Apricot, Blooming of the Cherry

A rather large mistake is in the making. Serves me right for being so damn impatient, I say.

Oh, it looks pretty enough, the kwanzan cherry the Prince and I planted  several years ago to replace the apricot that up and died. It was good riddence to that, even if it screened our yard from the blight of new townhouses that went up behind our place and obstructed a clear view of the sky.

See, the apricot had a habit of prettily flowering and then spurting forth fruit, bushels of fruit, which you might think was very exciting and pleasant and tasty but was instead utterly disgusting and grew increasingly vile with each passing year.

It was here when we bought the house, approaching 27-years-ago, and weren't we thrilled that the skinny little sapling would eventually yield our very own apricot crop.

As it happened, just the summer before we'd been to visit friends in California and spent afternoons sitting stoned (or at least one of us was) on a deck plucking peaches from the branches of a tree that hovered deliciously overhead, sweet juices dribbling down our chins.

Clearly, we had a vision going here -- and didn't that apricot waltz right into the picture (funny what makes you buy a house, isn't it? It's all in the romance).

So we bought the house and watched the tree grow, fertilizing and fretting year after year when no fruit appeared. It never would, the tree experts informed us, because there was no other apricot in the vicinity and cross-pollination (or was it fertilization?) would never occur.

Well, clearly someone must have planted one because there came a year when the tree-top had lofted itself above reach and it was in that year that the fruiting began. The tree's height is essential information because fruit ripens (logically enough) from the top down.

And since no one could reach it -- this is the city for heaven's sake, not southern California, and among other things we don't have a deck--the fruit would ripen and rot and fall to the ground and would squish underfoot and stink and be crawling with flies and maggoty things. Year after year, every May morning began with me donning galoshes, grabbing a large black plastic trash bag, and gagging as I shoveled the slops.

By the time it dropped dead the tree was well over 30-feet tall. Imagine the slop that falls from a tree of that size.

The only good thing about the apricot was that it grew tall but spread little. Something we should have kept in mind, but didn't. 

When the cherry tree that replaced it is in full bloom as it is in the above picture, it is a sight so splendid that it's difficult to heave my brain around the idea that it is mine. It begins with a limpish little fringe of buds, rather pale in color, and it all  looks pretty insipid. And then, like Ms Marmelstein removing her glasses, it bursts forth in such a splendor of blossoms that one is absolutely agog.

Sometimes, like this year for instance, this all transpires in the space of a day. And so (unless it's too hot) commences a couple of weeks of floral ecstasy.

But once the bloom is over, there are another 50 or so weeks to contend with. And over these weeks the cherry will feed and grow at an alarming pace -- a pace that was fine for the first year or so as I watched in self-congratulation as it blotted out the unpleasant view of the townhouses. It is now, however, beginning to eclipse the garden itself.

Instead of the upright habit of the apricot, the cherry is on its way to a mighty spread.

About this I was warned, I tell myself. And how many times in this lifetime am I not going to listen but run pig-headedly into trouble that I could have avoided if if....

On the other hand, it just as frequently turns out that I shouldn't have listened and should have pig-headedly gone about doing what I was doing.

OH MERCY what a muddle life is.

One might ask, where was the Prince in this decision? Right by my side, sucking a cork and deferring to me and my carryings-on about gardening and trees, which is highly imaginative and only occasionally approaches realism. It wouldn't have mattered had he argued, because I would have managed to buffalo him into this, hopping up and down in my rightness. Poor boy.

The guy at the plant center was absolutely right when he told use this tree would eventually be rawther large in our small garden. 

What I/we chose to hear was that it blooms beautifully, grows quickly, bears no fruit--and was safe to transplant even though it was already quite tall (when it is usually recommended to start trees off small, it's healthier and blah di blah).  But I/we couldn't wait (didn't want to wait) the additional season or so it would take to get the tree up to a view-obscuring height.

Now it is insanely happy in the yard, stealing the dribble of light that grows the lilies and allows the roses to bloom a little before succumbing to black spot.   

Here is what we're looking forward to. If this tree was in our yard it would fill the yard. Look at how it has jumped its boundaries and is about to sweep that car up into its branches, belch and grow forth...

And so it is time, I think, to move.

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