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Cultivating Character

Report From PIA – August 29

I did a consultation the other day where there was an old cherry tree in the back of the garden. The main trunk of this tree leaned at a 45-degree angle, and several large branches randomly twisted and turned. This funky tree had so much character that was the focal point of the garden.

Contrast this to how most home-landscapers treat young trees. After a storm I’ll get calls and emails from readers/listeners who want to know how to pull their wind-blown trees up straight again. I’ve seen plants that have been staked in four directions to hold them perfectly vertical, and those that are chained to buildings or propped up with lumber.

If we are so busy working to make sure a plant remains perfectly vertical, how will our trees have any character in the future?

In our lives we also try to keep everything erect. Yet, like that focal point in my client’s garden, it’s often life’s unexpected stresses and storms that take us down the convoluted paths that create a rich journey.

Some would want to stake and prune this Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate' so that it's more in balance. I'm just letting it grow.

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