Have you ever loved a tree, just watched it blossom and held your breath?
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.
© Lisa Shambrook
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
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 © 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 © Lisa Shambrook
Have you ever lost an important tree or plant, how did you overcome the loss?