I have been planting trees in the heat.
The massive old gidyea tree (Acacia cambageii) in the western garden is all but gone; even though its passing is on our hands, we are missing it all the same. I have no idea how old it is, for it was an imposing tree when I came here as a young bride, so many moons ago. That old gidyea tree at the little back gate stood fast, anchoring us to this little stony plot, embracing us in its welcome shade. Indeed, our only shade, for back then it was in poor company with just a struggling white oleander and the bedraggled antignon its only friends.
The gidyea tree has watched over this garden, witnessing the strides of progress and the shuffles back again. At times it seems we have shuffled forward, and the strides were the backward steps. The making of a garden with a novice at the spade, blind enthusiasm never daunted by the challenges that nature tossed her way. When you know nothing else, you assume this is how it is. And thus, it was and will always be.
I remember planting our first roses, a little line of soldiers on parade, under the gidyea tree. My Yates garden guide suggested that roses enjoyed plenty of sun, so I certainly delivered on that front, choosing a western aspect with no other shelter other than our lone gidyea tree. The tree flourished on the extra water and all that delicious blood and bone. The blanket of gidyea seed that year was unsurpassed; a thick layer of seed and leaf to smother the poor roses gasping underneath, their yellow stunted stems a cry for help. Oh, that gidyea knew his luck had changed for good with this young gun in charge. Needless to say, the roses were duly moved and would go on to flourish, far away from the benign protection of Nanny Gidyea.
The gidyea stood like a beacon on the skyline, a marker for home from afar. When the girls were little, their winter days were spent on their ponies, tearing around in the surrounding paddocks, often many miles from home. A box of matches in their coat pocket in case of an accident and the big old gidyea tree, standing tall across this flat wild landscape, calling them home from their adventures at the end of the day. Anchoring and embracing.
In the ensuing years, the gidyea’s role in the garden has had many guises; it has stood sentinel, surrounded by lawn; it has marked the spot where the garden merged to a wilder, outer area (for this read largely unkept and neglected) until the gardener moved beyond him and tamed the gibber (cleaned up). It has been surrounded by beds of pretty, flowering annuals, something I believe it particularly enjoyed despite the obvious twee-ness of a massive tree sitting in a froth of pastel bubbles. More recently, it has been encompassed by a larger garden bed, filled in with plumbago, potato bush and a pink oleander; and most importantly, it has been the home to Lord Dudley the peacock and the Guineas.
For some years now, the old tree has been waning and slowly but surely, fading away. Massive branches, possibly overgrown by too much high living, have smashed down into the garden, amazingly always missing the nearby verandah and kitchen roof. Most of the tree, though still standing, is now dead and so Mr. Moble has started on the extraordinarily complex task of removing the tree.
We are by no means finished though much of it has gone. I cannot begin to explain the ingenious contraptions he has come up with to remove the towering branches. Naturally, I covered my eyes and my ears in horror before watching in stunned awe, who could miss a show like that? The usual ladder on the rearing tractor bucket method was enhanced with some chains and many lengths of rope and the ubiquitous wire and casually tethered chainsaw, none of which I was asked to hang on to. I have been there before dear reader and despite appearances, am not so stupid.
Thus far, no garden has been destroyed in the felling the of gidyea tree and whilst two enormous trunks remain, much of it is now stacked for next winter. Even the loss of shade has not been too jarring, for we realise now there was not much shade left in the poor old tree. Indeed, the surrounding white cedar, Chinese Elm and others are now drawn into view and are already embracing and anchoring us despite their younger years.
And so, I have been planting trees in the heat; a mulberry and a Pepper Tree have been added to the mix, something to soften the afternoon wilt on the cold room. Lord Dudley and Co have de-camped to the surrounding trees and all is quiet on the western front. The sunset will always be different now, without our gidyea’s branches tracing black against the evening glow; I have looked west through that tree for so very long. One thing that gardening has taught this novice is that you must always look ahead and I know the gidgea tree will be with us again as we gather around the fire next winter, anchoring and embracing us still.
The Moble Gardener