The Loss of Laburnum…

Have you ever loved a tree, just watched it blossom and held your breath?

loss of laburnum, the last krystallos, laburnum tree, golden chain,

Laburnum © Lisa Shambrook

When we moved into our home twelve years ago, a scrappy tree stood half way up the garden. It was bare and about fifteen feet tall, with straggly twiggy branches, but beautiful glossy bark. I had no idea what it was until the following spring, when from behind the two rhododendrons, the most beautiful acid yellow blossoms suddenly bloomed, gorgeous golden chains hung from the branches, and brightened my garden.

I’d seen laburnums before, and never been very keen on them, but this one blew me away. It was beautiful, a lovely shape, and the colour accentuated the purple and lilac rhododendrons perfectly. I was sold.

laburnum tree, the last krystallos,

© Lisa Shambrook

laburnum blossom, yellow flowers, the last krystallos,

Laburnum Blossom © Lisa Shambrook

The children climbed it in autumn, hung rope from a branch in the summer to swing on, and we hung homemade insect houses from it too. I was never worried about the toxicity of the tree, well aware of its poisonous nature; all parts are poisonous if ingested. There are other toxic plants in my garden and I’ve always taught my children to respect nature and enjoy its beauty rather than chop down something beautiful due to fear.

There was never a more pleasing sight in my garden than the week the laburnum blossomed. I’d watch for it, watch the buds appear, and wait patiently for the day when a glance out of the window would take my breath away.

I adore trees, of all varieties, and we have a couple of apple trees (Discovery and Worcester), an Abies Koreana (with wonderful purple/black cones), a replanted Christmas tree, a couple of small ornamental firs and the laburnum. I can’t take credit for the laburnum. The previous owner chose it to accompany the rhododendrons, and it was an inspired choice. As it turns out the positioning would be its literal downfall, but inspired all the same.

I’d love to plant many trees, but a 30 x 90 foot garden can only take so many and the garden rises in a very steep slope.

The laburnum in its glory and uprooted © Lisa Shambrook

The laburnum in its glory and uprooted © Lisa Shambrook

It was a very sad day, when three weeks ago I wandered into my daughters’ bedroom, stared out of the window and bit back tears. The high winds of the previous two days had uprooted the tree. Now the twenty-five foot tree lay across my garden, swathed in lemon yellow, and I could only stand and stare.

uprooted laburnum, fallen tree, fallen laburnum, the last krystallos,

Uprooted laburnum © Lisa Shambrook

The loss of a tree might seem small, even unimportant, but it’s still a loss. I recall the hurricane of 1987, when I was fifteen and in Hove. Our local park lost two thirds of its trees and I remember that Seven Oaks lost six of its oaks. A loss of even one tree still hits me.

Trees inspire me and feature heavily in my writing, particularly in ‘Beneath the Old Oak’, where Meg finds solace beneath her tree. Losing my tree was tough. The horizon in my garden will never look the same. Next year, I’ll glance out of the window and something will be missing.

My garden has currently acquired the appearance of a meadow, due to hubby’s long work hours, my writing and bad back, so I don’t know if we’ll replace the laburnum. The whole garden is waiting for an overhaul…so we’ll just have to wait and see…

fallen laburnum. uprooted tree, the last krystallos,

Fallen laburnum © Lisa Shambrook

Have you ever lost an important tree or plant, how did you overcome the loss?

9 thoughts on “The Loss of Laburnum…

  1. Amanda Makepeace

    I can relate. This spring I discovered our large hibiscus bush (5ft tall) was dead. I’m still bothered by it months later. I looked forward to it’s beautiful flowers an all the bees and butterflies it would attract. I’m planning to buy another, but it still hurts.

  2. Let's CUT the Crap!

    No, I consider myself lucky in that I have not lost a beloved tree. The previous owners of my first house had planted a trumpet vine and I thought it was gorgeous till a couple years later not only did it explode with magnificent numbers of orange trumpets on the vine twisting around a sturdy support, but decided to pop up wines all over my back yard. That one I wanted to pummel. 😀

  3. Lizzie Koch (@Lizzie_Koch)

    In January, we lost our pine tree. we were gutted. It provided a natural ‘fence for privacy. I loved listening to the pine cones cracking as they expanded. Now, there’s a huge gap. It’s so sad.

    But silver lining; hubby went out and bought a chain saw as he needed it to chop up the trunk which fell mainly in next doors garden. He’s always wanted one but never needed one. I hate the things.

    Even months on, we look out the garden and know there’s something missing.

  4. Joanne

    I had a beautiful tree in my front garden. I used to watch the birds come and go from my bed while I lay there with my coffee. My new neighbours moved in and after a month complained about my tree. Firstly it was blocking the light into his bedroom then it was causing green fungus on his bay window then it was causing a mess with the leaves. He offered to chop 25ft tree down himself. I said it wasn’t my tree causing those problems it was because we were north facing at front of house and luckily have a south facing back garden and every house on the same side of the road had the green mould which certainly wasn’t caused by my tree it was winter at the time so no leaves were there to cause a mess at the time. I would not be cutting it down. He made me feel guilty then over the next 12 months huffing and puffing about my tree to the point where I felt concious of his unhappiness I gave in and got it took down. ( someone else gave me concern, they said it was dying though didn’t look it to to)
    I now feel very sad I have cut it down I miss watching and hearing the birds and it is very well and healthy as it is clearly growing back. I have a large stump left which I have mounted my house number on. I am trying to make a feature of it but it does make me feel sad inside when I see it branches sprouting from the stump! Everyone down my road has what I call a concrete jungle at the front myself and only a couple more have no brick drive ways which I think look very bland. I luckily still have my beautiful laburnum tree at the front which I will certainly not be cutting down. I think it looks so pretty. So many people seem to have a hate for this tree due to its concerns on toxicity ☺

    1. Lisa Shambrook Post author

      I’m sad you had to cut down the tree, it’s so sad others can’t see the beauty… I hope the rest of your garden makes you happy, Joanne, especially your laburnum! 🙂
      You’re right, there are so many bland driveways and not enough natural beauty…

  5. Pingback: Be like the Wildflowers of Spring… | The Last Krystallos

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