Losing half a tree

Last night it rained, and what with raindrops and seed pods it proved too much for the big tree in the corner of our garden, and with a loud crash two of the lowest and longest branches broke off.

Tree1Some years ago our neighbour, Mr Veldhoen, wanted to erect a thatched shelter in his garden, and he had to have our permission because he wanted to build it next to the wall. We were a bit worried that branches might fall off the tree on to it, and had some of them cut. Mr Veldhoen said that before we moved in, he was tempted to move the boundary wall so he could have the tree in his garden. It really is a magnificent tree.

Tree2Now it is autumn and it’s all over seed pods (a few months ago we showed pictures of it with catkins), and for the first time in the 30 years we have lived here, baby trees have started springing up in the garden. Perhaps we’ll try to plant some over the road by the railway line.

Tree3Mr Veldhoen moved away years ago, but the thatched shelter he erected is still there, behind the palm tree on the right of the picture. Fortunately the broken branch missed it, and landed almost entirely on our lawn, without causing much damage to anything else.

Tree4

Changes in Melmoth after 30 years

We lived in Melmoth, Zululand, from 1977-1982, so it is almost 30 years since we left. Earlier this week we visited it again while on holiday, and drove past some of the places we had known, to see what changes there had been. I’ve written about some of the general changes on my Khanya blog, but there are some changes that are also linked more closely to the family.

In 1979 we had a Christmas tree in our sitting room, with decorations, and we put Christmas presents under it. After Christmas we took it outside, and decided to plant it outside the study window. One reason for doing this was that in summer the afternoon sun shone into the window and made the study too hot and the light made it more difficult to work in. Of course when we first planted the tree it was too small to give much shade.

Our Christmas tree when we planted it in January 1980: Val, Simon, Bridget and Steve Hayes

We planted it on 11 January 1980, and it was only a little taller than the children.

A different view of Bridget and the tree

The tree grew quite quickly.

After a year the tree was a bit taller.

But after 30 years, it was enormous, and had two tops.

July 2012 the Christmas tree towers above the flat-crown tree, which in turn has spread to stretch over the house.

Other trees had also grown, and Hammar Street has a much better surface, and there is actually a pavement, which wasn’t there when we lived in Melmoth, so back then people tended to walk down the street.

 

Hammar Street, Melmoth, July 2012

On 1 January 1981 we planted three cycad seedlings in the garden. They came from Val’s mother (Dorothy Greene) who lived in Escombe, Queensburgh, and had a couple of large cycads, which produced lots of seeds, and seedlings kept growing in her garden. She gave us some, and also had to give us special certificates for the nature conservation department, as cycads are protected plants.

All Saints Rectory, Melmoth, with cycad near the chimney. 23 July 2012

I’m not sure whether that was one of the cycads we planted — I thought we had planted them in more protected places, but perhaps someone moved one, or one of them grew up and produced seeds of its own.

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