|Life's little Successes|
See the black tape? Every once in a while we should step back and check the trees in the forest. I check the ones in the yard too, while I'm at it. I do like checking trees; it comes honestly, and I observe them carefully. Closer examination is often required to see mind-shattering, clever details. When you focus on details, you often find surprises, too, pleasant ones. What seems normal is not. Sometimes, persistence pays. The strange and unusual can happen.
Let us digress with purpose. Just for today, pretend the world is not in difficulty, that wars are not in progress, and that major economies, even countries are flirting with bankruptcy. Let's ignore the weather which is haywire, wreaking havoc upon the land with unmitigated flooding, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, forest fires, and drought world-wide. Let's forget that we can't afford to take a wonderful vacation to an exotic land.
While we're at it, let's totally ignore petty, corrupt politicians, stuffed-shirts, the self-entitled, the talking heads on television, and the at-times sordid lives of Charlie What's-his-face and So-So GaGa in Hollywood .
Let's focus on life's little successes instead. Let's talk about growing things. Why? Let's explain. WE think happier is better.
My friend Glory Lennon is a happy person. She is a wonderful writer, blogger, and novelist, but her blog "Glory's Garden" ( http://glory-garden.blogspot.com/ ) seems to be her happy place. She grows things. She's an expert gardener, she is knowledgeable. She knows that day lilies don't have bulbs, she knows what thistles are, even big ones; she has two green thumbs, and best of all, she is always happy to help others with their gardening and floral greenery challengerium.
Glory may well be the very zeitgeist of gardens, and doesn't charge wampum for advice or tips on how to grow stuff in front of your wigwam either. No matter. The point is, I have been enjoying reading her blog for well over a year now, that's longer than one growing season in gardening talk. Good thing. Things sink in slowly. Let's not lose focus now, remember, patience is good, and persistence pays.
Back in 1994 I planted a skinny McIntosh apple tree. It was a mere whip, about 15 " high, no branches, and the size of a very skinny brown pencil. Despite my advanced gardening skills and encouragement, annual examinations and talking to it, in all this time (yep, seventeen years, threats and all ) it never grew more than 5' high, hm....actually it may not even be quite that high.
It is still not much more than an inch in diameter. Stunted. Height challenged. Anemic looking. Nary a blossom. A potential Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Sans vitamins or something. Last year was definitely the last straw, time to cut it down. Not so fast, gardening guy. There's only one thing we hate around here more than wimps and quitters, and that's apple-tree-chopper-downers. Apples, the fruit of the Gods and all that.
The optimism in Glory's Garden must have rubbed off on me. "One more year...I'll GRAFT it." I said, almost changing my mind, the old fingers just itching to grab the axe.
THIS very spring, a few months ago, while it was still looking leafless, I was going to reverse direction again, hack it down, and even made a cut on the base as I started to do so. I changed my mind at the last second. It must have been the zeitgeist whispering.
Instead, I studiously grafted a twig (scion, that's apple talk) from a producing "Sweet Sixteen" apple onto a nipped-off handy branch, that would be any arbitrarily chosen branch close to the trunk. The theory is if a branch graft will grow, you can eventually hack off (in civilized terms, reduce) the rest of the OLD tree and convert the whole thing to the new species. Not a bad plan, since I have had marginal to fair and reasonable to erratic success grafting. Out came the grafting knife and black tape. A simple wedge graft. Match up the cambium ( that's the green stuff under the bark). That's how you do it. Crank it up with tape to seal it so no sap can escape. Sap has to go up into the graft when the buds start growing. All that sipping-sap makes it grow.
Well, that's the theory.
For the longest time the graft looked like a dud, completely hopeless. A skinny stick with one end stuck in black tape. No leaves. Dried up buds. Dead, falling off, and threatening to dry up completely. The bark was even beginning to wrinkle. I clipped off the top end of the graft stick (scion, remember-- to real apple guys ) and sealed that cut too.
Nothing happened for a month, and the rest of the tree came into it's usual wimpy leaves, so in disgust, I thought the best strategy was to simply ignore the whole tree for the season, disassociate my hurt feelings and gardening soul from it, take revenge and viciously hack it down in the fall --after the leaves dropped.
It's easier to do when the tree is 18 years old, the age of majority for apple trees. Besides, in the fall, most trees look like dead sticks without leaves --much easier for sensitive gardeners to hack down. The "chop it down with something , anything *sharp and get a real tree " concept came to mind. ( THE *axe was indeed looking very tempting at the time )
Surprise...I could not believe my eyes. Three months later, a.k.a. a few days ago, I discovered the graft was not only growing, but it has blossoms. Apple blossoms. That would be right, since the stick (scion) I stuck on there wasn't from a spruce or poplar tree. Success. I held my breath. Are we there yet? A real dual- apple tree?
Even more confusing, the whole tree began to grow like never before--putting on at least a foot of height. The leaves are now dark green, lush -- and healthy. Why? Grafting? It's looking good! I'll have a dual-species tree --if the original tree ever decides to blossom.
Maybe I half scared it to death with that sharp chopper. Maybe it just wanted extra encouragement, or company, being an old tree and such. No, it can't be.
I know. I think the zeitgeist from Glory's Garden took over and influenced it. They can do that, you know. I'll ask her. She'll know.
that's my story and I'm sticking to it.