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Gardening can be a blooming pain at times



Nature will surprise you – and it has a way of teaching you valuable life lessons. It was tele-evangelist Robert H Schuller who said: “Never cut a tree down in the winter time. Never make a negative decision in the low time.

“Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”

I did exactly the opposite of what Schuller advised last week when I cut down two coral trees.

I have been patiently waiting for the past four years, hoping that one day in August or September they will, like other coral trees, produce glorious blooms of scarlet flowers majestically perched on bare stalks. What a magnificent sight these trees are when they are in the right hands and environment!

I feel a little lighter considering the many times I have been pricked by their thorns as I tried to trim the branches.

They had reached a height of 3m to 3.5m, what excuse did they have for not bloody blooming? Don’t get me started on the mess they make when they shed their leaves.

One was clearly blighted, judging by its pimpled leaves with a stem that looked like it survived a slash of a panga. What a relief it was to watch them being cut down and the roots removed so that they do not torture me with the hope of a winter bloom that does not materialise.

I learnt that though I love the coral tree, it does not love me back – at least not in the way I expect a coral tree to show love.

I got tired of the pricks and cleaning leaves that are scattered even in the most unexpected parts of the yard. It is 10-month long labour of love each year with only a one- to two-month window of waking up to blossoms.

They had teased me once with a single flower, which disappeared before I even had a chance to fully appreciate it.

I have decided to dedicate my energy to the hibiscuses that have been real dolls. I decided to make time to trim the syzygiums, my ever-green friends whose new leaves give off a golden glow in the sun.

Though the bitter cherry-like fruit they produce is a nuisance to clean, they do add a dash of colour that cheers me up.

This year, I covered the hibiscuses, bougainvilleas, angel’s trumpets and plumerias so that they are not damaged by the frost.

The hibiscuses and bougainvilleas have been producing flowers even under the frost covers. Such darlings!

So, goodbye coral trees. It’s not you, it’s me.

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Phumla Mkize





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