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Cheryl Hughes: Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer

By Cheryl Hughes


We have an almond tree that is a spectacular beauty in the spring.  It lives in the area just beyond our front yard, and it blooms pink at the same time the peach tree in the backyard blooms pink.  We had two almond trees.  The second one didn’t make it.  Neither did the third or fourth.  Garey and I came to the conclusion that there must be some kind of contaminate or pestilence in the soil in the area, so he dug it up with his backhoe, then we filled it in with fresh topsoil.  

Last spring, we bought a cherry tree from a nursery in Bowling Green.  We bought a cherry tree, because our granddaughter Sabria loves cherry tree blossoms, plus as an added bonus, we expected it to bloom at the same time as our almond and peach trees.  It would have, if it had been a Yoshino Cherry Tree.  The tree I bought, however, was not a Yoshino Cherry Tree. 

We bought the tree after the blooming season for most trees had passed.  We planted it in the spot we had prepared with new topsoil and tended to it as if it were an only child.  We kept plenty of water on the young tree, sprayed it for pests, and fertilized it per cherry tree instructions.  The leaves fell off in the fall, and it appeared to be hibernating this past winter, like its neighbor the almond tree.

About the first week of March, the almond tree and the peach tree began to show signs of life.  The cherry tree remained dormant.  By the end of the third week of March, the almond and peach trees were resplendent with pink blossoms.  I checked the cherry tree—nothing.  I started to worry.  Maybe, there were still contaminants in the soil.  Maybe, the little tree had been doomed from the beginning.  I began visiting the tree daily, checking for new growth.  I tried talking the little tree out of its malaise.  “Come on,” I said, “you need to snap out of it.  You’ve slept all winter.  All of the other cherry trees are blooming—I had seen some nearby and in Bowling Green—and you’re just standing there like a dead stick.”  Still nothing.  I tried divine intervention.  “Please God, it’s Sabria’s tree,” I pleaded.

The almond and peach blossoms gave up their places to small green leaves.  Still, no word from the cherry tree.  I dug through my 2023 receipts and found the receipt for the purchase of the tree, in hopes that the nursery might have a one-year guarantee policy in place.  I called.  The young girl who answered the phone said she would have the main gardener call me when he got back from his delivery.  I decided to take a picture of the dead cherry tree, the one I had checked for new growth every day for four weeks, so I could send the picture to the nursery’s gardener.  I arrived at the tree, phone camera at the ready, only to discover that the cherry tree was putting out new sprouts, and the buds that had appeared to be dead had a slight hint of green at their tips.

My phone rang.  “Mrs. Hughes?” the voice at the other end said.  “You called about your cherry tree.”

“Yes,” I said, “and I feel like an idiot.  I went out to take a picture of a dead tree, and there is new growth on it.”

“Is it a Kwanzan Cherry Tree?” the gardener asked.

I looked at my receipt.  “Yes, I said.”

“They bloom about two weeks later than the Yoshino, the ones with white blossoms you see bloomed out all over Bowling Green and Washington DC right now,” he said.  “I have a Kwanzan, and you’re in for a show.  They have pink double blossoms.”

I thanked him for calling me back then went outside to apologize to my little tree.  “From one late bloomer to another,” I said, “I’m sorry I expected you to be like all the other cherry trees in the area.  You just keep being you, and if I can do anything to help, just let me know.”

I remain at my post next to the living room window, patiently watching and waiting for the show still to come.


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