Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Day 35 The Best Time to Plant

In a novel I once read there was an old Chinese saying quoted by the author, it is this:
When is the best time to plant a tree?
Twenty years ago.
When is the next best time?

John Muir, who I mentioned in yesterday’s reflection, once wrote that when we plant a tree we plant ourselves. How true that is, and I don’t just think it is just about trees. When we move to somewhere new, it is often by planting something in the garden that roots us in that place, be it a tree, a plant, a rose, or a vegetable patch. There is a sense of belonging to that place which goes with such planting, a sense of connection.
I remember when we moved to St Augustine’s 27 years ago one of our children sent off for a free cherry tree that he had seen advertised, just a small sapling, and he planted it in the vicarage garden. It now towers above anything else that is out there and is much loved by the local wildlife, who raid it for the fruit in due season. It is also much loved by all the family because it marks our time here, our belonging here. It is very symbolic of the roots we put down here as a young family. There is also a beautiful rose, that someone gave us on our 25th wedding anniversary, which still blooms beautifully and connects us with that moment in time.
Our interaction with nature grounds us in a sense of place, the things we plant mark seasons and events. The things we plant honours certain plots of land that have become important to us. It doesn’t have to be a tree, a simple plant or flower can have much the same effect. I imagine that is why we like to mark remembrance gardens and gravesides with roses, plants and flowers. It consecrates a memory for us and sets a place aside for a sacred purpose.
The natural world marks our life experiences in so many different and important ways. Nature truly is a mother who reaches out to us. May it be a two way process.

Jeremiah 17

Blessed are they who trusts in the Lord.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

The nature writer, Richard Mabey,
gives us a slightly different perspective on planting trees.
Writing about National Tree Planting week he reminds us
that trees are quite capable of replanting themselves
if left to their own devices, and we get out of the way.
He reminds us that at one time
Britain was quite naturally mainly forest,
long before National Tree Planting week!
He suggests that planting trees is more important symbolically,
than it is ecologically, and that we should never forget that
we need trees more than they need us.


Advice From a Tree – source unknown

Stand tall and proud.
Sink your roots into the earth.
Be content with your natural beauty.
Go out on a limb.
Drink plenty of water.
Remember your roots.
Enjoy the view.