Today was a perfect summer day in Brittany. Such a perfect summer day that we decided not to feel sorry about the threatening drought (already obvious in our garden though).
We put up part of the garden furniture... since Summer is here to stay.
Excuse me? What did you say? Summer is still one month away? Oh really?
Then we got visitors. Friends of friends who wanted to have a look at our garden... because they had heard about it. Our wild and poetic and romantic garden we love so much.
And then we were asked: “Where is your... your...?”
Our... our “Wollemi Pine”, that’s what they wanted to see more than anything, I guess.
We took them to the very secluded spot where “Wollemi” is growing. They looked at it. And they did look doubtful. Not knowing what to say.
And then one of them cried out: “Oh look at this perfect rosebush!” And off they went to admire our beautiful rosebushes...
After they left, I went back to have a few words with “Wollemi”.
I do believe it is very important to talk to plants and trees. I am not a plant whisperer though. I just talk to them. I touch them. I take pictures. Well, I love them, all of them. Some more than others but I try not to make a difference.
“Wollemi” is a very special tree though. Its real name is Wollemia nobilis and it is not a pine tree.
More fascinating even, it is dating back from prehistoric times. It was thought extinct until 1994 when an Austalian forest ranger found a few of them in a canyon.
I am sure you’ll want to read the whole story in Wikipedia or go to the official site.
To make the story short, Australia decided to find dedicated botanical gardens which would be ready to “adopt” a Wollemia in order to help the species to survive.
At the time not much was known about those trees but Northern Brittany looked good enough to get three Wollemia “baby” specimens (clones, they said at the time).
We were the only non-botanical garden to get one because Yves, our garden dreamer/green activist/friend, managed to get one for us. I should say... for me.
At the time, I was barely surviving from a very bad cancer and a very strong chemo... Yves thought it would be keep me going if he could get one of those survivors for me...
I fell in love with “Wollemi” when it arrived to Les Tertres in 2006. December 26th.
Directly from Australia.
Swee’ Pea was there, of course. How could he miss such an important arrival in our life?
Not much was known about Wollemia trees at the time and we felt a little bit lost.
Yves was so enthusiastic about the whole experience that we decided everything would be fine and that our “Wollemi” would outlive us... and Swee’ Pea’s children-to-be and his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren... which is the reason why people plant trees, isn’t it?
Five years later, “Wollemi” is doing fine. It seems to thrive even when winters are really cold and snowy and summers very hot and dry.
It is growing amazingly fast. We love to watch its growth from season to season.
The way it protects the end of its leaves with tiny resinous “gloves” when it starts getting cold...
The way its tender leaves sprout... when it gets warmer. Sometimes several times in a few months.
The way it started growing three trunks and not branches...
The way it looks so fragile... and it is so strong with a thick knobby bark.
The way it looks so adolescent... a forceful tree in the making though!
The way it looks so strange. Not quite a tree. Not quite a fern. Not quite like any tree we’ve seen so far.
It was about 15 inches when it arrived to Les Tertres. Less than 5 years later, it is almost 5 ft 5... I know it still has a long way to grow. Its Australian parents are well over 130 feet high.
People come to see it because they have heard about it... They know we have one growing in our garden. So they come. And they leave, looking very disappointed.
We will never understand what they expect from a Wollemia.
We have lived so close to this tree that beyond its strange look, we see the hope it holds. Because a Wollemia is all about survival and life.
Our friend was so right the day he called me to tell me with such a joyful voice: “I have finally found your Wollemia. You are going to love it.”
To those of you who will have noticed the wire fence around “Wollemi”... We are not keeping it in jail. We are protecting it from the wild rabbits and hares that live in our garden. Every six months, the wire fence is enlarged so that “Wollemi” gets as much space as it needs to grow freely.
*Good Luck, and Good Night*