My Other Love ~ and my Little Miracle…

 

As someone who loves bonsai, my favourite treat is to visit Heron’s Bonsai in Surrey. It is an amazing place with beautiful bonsai in every conceivable shape, size and price. From small starter trees for just a few pounds to large mature specimens, some of them hundreds of years old and costing a small fortune.

I could walk around Herons for hours, and usually do, for Peter Chan, the owner, has his own personal collection there. Peter has won many ‘gold’s’ at Chelsea and teaches the art of bonsai. This is how I met him. He was the guest speaker at our local bonsai club in London, and by the time he had finished pruning and training an ordinary garden centre shrub into an impressive bonsai, I was well and truly hooked.

My own collection is  pretty eclectic. I have some wonderful specimens; some have been presents from my family, and some I have grown from seed. Others I have trained, as Peter showed me, from bushes I have found in my travels.

Going to Heron’s is potentially a very dangerous thing for me to do, for there will always be something I cannot live without.

These days, I am governed by the space I have available, so I tell myself I will just ‘window shop’.

Doesn’t always work, of course.

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Six years ago, on such a visit, I had been content to settle for some potting compost and was about to leave, when on the floor near the checkout, I saw a rather shabby looking plant with straggly branches and wilting leaves. It was about six inches tall and unrecognisable and didn’t look as though it would live to see tomorrow.

As I picked it up, Peter looked over at me, eyebrows raised. I must have had a question written all over my face too, for he just smiled and said I could have it. He must have thought the poor thing was beyond hope.

As I have always been a champion of dying houseplants, I took it home and began to cherish it. Turned out it was an azalea, and for several months there was no sign of improvement. A few new leaves and some that fell off. Not very encouraging.

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Then three weeks before Christmas, something strange started to happen. White buds appeared. In no time at all, the pathetic little branches were covered in beautiful, double white flowers. Unusual for an azalea, I discovered, they usually had single flowers and they never bloom at Christmas time.

All the next year I tended it with care, mindful of the display that might come again. I repotted it, carefully fertilised and watered it, but nothing I did seemed to make any difference. It just didn’t grow. I had heard of slow- growing, but this was ridiculous!

But another Christmas loomed and more white buds appeared.

I was puzzled. How could such a spindly specimen bloom so abundantly in the middle of winter?

So, in my bonsai collection, among all the healthy, vigorously growing trees, in pride of place is the white azalea. Eight years have passed and it hasn’t grown much, but it blooms in December without fail . The leaves look healthier though, so it isn’t dying any more.

It’s just my little magic tree…

©Jaye Marie

You need Hands!

When I consider what I do with my hands every single day, and all the different things I couldn’t do if I lost them, I know I would simply fall to pieces. I cannot imagine how I would cope, and yet people have learned to live and cope with far worse loss.

Our hands are such an important part of our lives. We need them to do even the simplest of things, from brushing away a fly, to scratching an itch. Just how would we cope if they were suddenly taken away?

Think of all the things you couldn’t do without fingers and thumbs. The basic things in life would be impossible and you would be dependent on someone else for everything. How would you carry on?

I think it would take a very special person to survive that.

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Chris King, 57, is such a special person. He lost all the fingers on both hands in an accident with a metal pressing machine three years ago. His only regret, he said at the time, was that just before the accident he had successfully stopped chewing his fingernails.

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He never thought it would be possible to have new hands, although his 5 year old niece seemed convinced, constantly asking Chris when he would be getting his new fingers.

He has just become the first man to have a double hand transplant, in a 12 hour operation. He says he can already feel his new fingers, and can’t wait to hold a pint of beer  and wear shirts with real buttons, just so he can do them up himself. He still works at the same firm, but cannot go near the machine where the accident occurred. He doesn’t remember exactly what happened that day, as that part of his brain has shut down, but the noise haunts him still.

I, for one, wish him all the joy in the world with his new hands…