Saturday, June 16, 2012

I fell in love with a tree... (A Story of a Quest)

It all started with a children's book.

The children and I were heading to check out at the library and Ava spotted one last book attractively displayed on an endcap. It showed a little girl in a green dress with a crown of pink flowers in her hair swinging from a tree full of pink flowers. She snatched it up and added it to our pile.

Later that week, when we finally got around to reading A Tree for Emmy by Mary Ann Rodman. It turned out to be a pretty sweet picture book about a girl who loves the mimosa tree in her grandmother's field and so asks for one of her own for her birthday. She and her parents found it difficult to find one and finally end up with a baby sapling from the ground below her grandmother's tree.

As I was driving around town, I began to notice beautiful fern-like trees with gorgeous pink blossoms. There's one on the drive to my parents' house. There's another on the way to the school where Ava has speech. After reading A Tree for Emmy I realized they were probably mimosa trees. I also quite liked them. Once I became aware of them I saw them everywhere. Driving around town with the family, my conversation with my husband would be peppered with interjections of "Mimosa!" accompanied by a pointing finger. On the train at Six Flags, I spotted and pointed out several. Taking the children to their private speech therapist, I noticed a gorgeous specimen across the street. Michael and I walked over to look at it close up while Ava was having her turn. I'm sure it had been there the entire year and a half we've been driving there, but only now did I notice it.

As we were driving home from Six Flags I decided to see if I could just buy one. Enough with the love from afar, I wanted to just get one. I had already decided earlier this spring that I wanted to get a flowering tree and hadn't quite decided which one yet. Now I was sure. I began searching online vendors. Of course, the abrupt decision to buy one ruined the anniversary (next week - 8 years) surprise my husband had been planning. That was sad, but now we would get to choose one together.

There are pink varieties (the most common), white varieties, and a dark pink (flame) variety. (Go here for oh so pretty pictures of flame mimosas.) Looking at pictures online I decided that the flame variety was the most striking one. Only one online vendor carries it right now. It doesn't ship until fall. And it is rather pricey. So, I decided to look for it locally. We visited and called several nurseries and none had what we wanted. I went back to the online vendor and searching for a coupon code stumbled across hundreds of very passionate negative reviews about this particular nursery so we decided against ordering from them. As it turns out, A Tree for Emmy was right about it being difficult to get your hands on a mimosa tree.

Then I remembered how Emmy got hers. One night, after dinner, our family went on a baby mimosa hunt. We drove and parked by the mimosa tree near my parents' house. It was on a common ground so I thought we could look for some babies growing under the tree. We brought buckets and little gardening spades just in case we might find a baby tree to dig up. The children were quite excited about going on a quest for baby mimosas.

Isn't the tree amazing? We nicknamed it "Mama Mimosa". But no baby mimosas were growing under it.

Then I looked down the hill and spotted three more mimosa trees growing on the banks of the dry creekbed.

I was determined to try everything to find some baby mimosas. But did you see that hill? And the rocks? The children thought all those rocks looked like a lot of fun. I thought dragging two small children down that hill carrying buckets and gardening tools sounded like a recipe for disaster. One one hand, I really wanted to search for some baby mimosas. On the other hand, I like my children healthy with no broken bones and no head injuries. Fortunately, just then a friendly neighbor passed by walking her dog. Hearing of our quest, she offered to let us go through her backyard down some steps to the creekbed.

To make this long story slightly shorter...

We found 11 seedlings. They had sprouted in a shallow patch of eroded soil in the creek bed. They had managed to grow in less than an inch of dirt over gravel and rocks. They would have been washed away with the next hard rain. We brought them home and potted them. To the best of my minimal gardening ability I am pampering them. (Please don't die, please don't die!) And now I have my very own mimosa. Well, to be more specific, I have eleven mimosas.

According to internet research the mimosa tree has as average lifespan of 10-20 years and grows to a height of 20-40 feet. So 1-4 feet of growth per year. How many years is that until blooms? Of course, I'll have eleven trees by then and what on earth will I do with eleven of them?

The end.

PS: If anyone has a flame mimosa tree near them and would be willing to collect some seed pods and mail them to me in the fall I would be forever grateful.


  1. Beautiful post about the magic of synchronicity! Isn't it amazing when we suddenly can "see" something that has been in our midst all along? This is my favorite post ever...

    1. Thanks! I actually just repotted all the seedlings this morning. At this point we still have 10 of the original 11 hanging on.

  2. This is the coolest story ever. I have never heard of anyone trying to turn my fiction into reality! Truth be told, this story is based on the story of my daughter's best friend Emme, who wanted a mimosa tree for her fifth birthday day, and read the book. The only thing different is that her father went out on the highway ROW which, in Mississippi, is covered in mimosa's, and dug up her baby for her. Thank you for enjoying my story.


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