Talking To Trees
June 14 2020
I revere trees. I was probably a Druid in a past life. One of the most spiritual moments of my life was walking through a cathedral of redwoods in complete awe of the power of nature. To plant a tree is an act of faith in tomorrow; faith that I will one day sit in their shade and watch the leaves turn color in the fall. I have left plenty of trees behind me in my past gardens and that’s ok, too. I have faith that someone will appreciate my efforts.
The world of trees is one of myth-there are many, many tales of the magical powers of trees. Norse mythology tells of Yggdrasil, the tree of life, a green ash (maybe) which stands at the center of the world with nine other worlds arrayed around it. The branches and roots holding the cosmos together. Consider also Tolkien’s Ents from Lord of the Rings, one instance of many talking trees in mythology. Alexander the Great visited a talking tree, in India the tree of the Sun and Moon told the future, and the Druids believed there were oracular trees, especially oaks said to be able to divine the future.
Now maybe I don’t believe that trees will speak out loud to me in English, but maybe they have a language of their own. We can with our technology try to measure and record tree communications but to walk in the redwoods is amazing in itself. Once on a very still day I was walking in a field near an old and giant cottonwood when suddenly all the leaves of that tree rustled and trembled. Only that tree, not the ones near it. Now, we can believe what we want, either a sudden breath of wind or the tree talking to me; doesn’t matter, it was still magical.
Trees always take up the majority of my garden budget. Ok, I confess, the garden budget is something of a myth, too, we don’t want to talk about that. One tree I have planted over and over every time I moved and started new gardens (5 times) is the Toba Hawthorn, because it is so beautiful, flowers, bark, shape, everything about it. The Toba is a cultivar quite different from our native wild hawthorns, different shaped leaves and double flowers that open white and fade to pink. There are actually a plethora of myths about hawthorn trees, one of which is that it is considered the home of fairies and it is bad luck to cut one down. Also, children were forbidden to bring the flowers into the house as it would invite illness and death. The berries are used herbally to treat heart and circulatory issues. I always plant it near the front door because it is said (ironically) to keep evil away and it is a symbol of hope in the language of flowers. Works for me. I hear the trees talking.
Toba Hawthorn, Cretaegus x Mordensis ‘Toba’, zone 3, 18-20’ tall and wide