Beaten by a Tree!
I failed to rescue the oak sapling.
The oak sapling!
I tried my best but as I hacked away at the weeds surrounding it, it became apparent that it would not be an easy task.
We had always called it a sapling for it was only a foot high, completely forgetting how many times it had been cut back over the years.
I discovered that the base of this tree was very large and mostly rotten. It was also growing so close to the wall and I suspected the roots would be entangled in the brickwork.
But was I disheartened?
Not even a little bit. This is where being stubborn can pay dividends, but whether this would be a good day for stubbornness remained to be seen.
I dug a trench around the tree, severing several rather large tap roots in the process. These would not be needed if I succeeded in creating a bonsai out of it. Tap roots are mainly for stability, and it’s the fine fibrous roots you need to protect.
When I tried to lever the root ball out of the hole with my trusty garden fork, it wouldn’t budge. Doubt began to sink in, nudging my determination to one side, so I tried to tug at it with all my strength, just to see some kind of movement. Anything to justify digging deeper.
This is when my determination failed, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to save this tree. It had been there too long and probably had tap roots in Australia.
I felt very sad at this point, for the tree would have to removed somehow, probably in pieces before it brought the wall down. But if my detemination pays another visit, I may have another go!
The wall in question was probably as old as our house, built in 1887 so saving it was more important than anything I wanted to do with the oak. (at least, that’s what common sense was telling me!)
Todays disapointment reminded me of another one of my failures, one even sadder that happened several years ago. I tried to rescue a beautiful red acer from a demolition site. I couldn’t bear the thought of it being mown down by a bulldozer, so asked the builder in charge if he minded my removing it. I knew it would be difficult, for whoever planted it had built a rockery around it, creating quite a lovely Chinese garden.
But before I could get started, the helpful builder took it upon himself to rip it up and present it to me, so proud of his handy work.
It hung there in his hand, already limp, the roots bare and damaged and I knew he had probably just killed it.
I did my best for that tree, carefully planted it in the best soil. I kept it in the shade and misted the leaves regularly to help it recover. Gradually, despite my efforts, I watched it die and all my prayers and efforts came to nothing.
I think a little piece of me died that day too…