June 28 2020
Quite possibly, the most enchanting garden I ever visited was a small herb garden and nursery in Oregon. There was a small, maybe 30-40 foot wide, round sunken area filled with trees and a circular path meandering around. Charming enough, but what stuck in my mind were the dozens and dozens of tiny mirrors and jewels suspended on fishing line from the branches of the trees high above my head. Little sparkly things dancing all around in the tiny forest. Enchante’.
Normally, I’m not a fan of glitter and sparkle in the garden, being more fond of using earthy things like wood and stone and iron for decorative elements, but this little garden was the exception to the rule.
I don’t possess a little forest and it would take more time than I might have to grow one, so I came up with an alternative. I would have a wishing tree. A perfect tree came to mind, a small tree with early spring drooping clusters of white flowers followed by edible purplish fruit in summer. The one I already have planted outside our office window is an Amalanchier laevis ‘Cumulus’, otherwise known as service berry. This is a tree form of amalanchier. Other names for serviceberries are Saskatoon or Juneberries which are large native shrubs, the fruit of which tastes and looks something like blueberries. Another tree form serviceberry on my wish list is called “Robin Hill”. And yes, they have beautiful fall color.
Anyway! I first saw a wishing tree in a garden in Nebraska and though it was such a wonderful and fun idea. There is a long history of individual trees being used as offerings and wishes. In India it is the banyan tree, in Japan bamboo, and native Americans have long hung offerings in trees. In the UK they hammer coins into the bark, you can find pictures of trees thickly embedded with coins.
My tree is on the east side of the house and protected from the wind (Amalanchiers like some shade). I could just see my crystals, strings of beads and little mirrors whipping madly around until hopelessly entangled in the branches-can’t have that. I’ve heard mirror reflections are fairy shadows-what a delightful thought!
Fortunately I have a stash of beads, wire, and crystals-a craft I briefly pursued. Clearly this stuff was waiting for me to come up with the wishing tree idea. I’m not really a jewelry person so-jewelry for my tree!
I know what my first wish will be-for an “Robin Hill” amalanchier. I have a feeling it will come true.
Amalanchier x grandiflora ‘Robin Hill’ zone 4, likes a little more water, 20 feet tall and wide
Amalanchier laevis ‘Cumulus’ 20 feet tall, 15 feet wide, early spring flowers