THE SAYING GOES THAT A THING OF BEAUTY is a joy forever. I guess “forever” in this case is in the mind’s eye. My darling, oldest bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) went down for the count a week ago, or at least half of it did, and there’s nothing beautiful about the aftermath of its demise.
The bottlebrush buckeye, one of four around the yard, had grown to a hummock-shaped thing of about 10 feet high and 15 or so feet across, a community unto itself with many suckers beneath the oldest stems. This suckering habit will prove to be its (and my) salvation, as younger shoots are known to grow several feet a year, which gives me hope that in time I’ll have my hummock back.
I waded into the fallen mess carefully just yesterday, once I’d had time to really look at it for a few days from all angles and think about the right approach to its rejuvenation. (Up top is how the damaged shrub looked from the house; just above, from farther out in the landscape, looking toward home.)
Could any of it be saved, I wondered, after such disfigurement by a freakish storm? Three of the oldest stems were gone, leaving a hole where probably one-third of the plant’s volume had been. I say I went in carefully, because I didn’t want to damage what might prove to be a well-placed sucker that was its best hope for a future. I carried out the dead, and had a look around (below, the thicket of suckers beneath where the fallen stems had grown).
It was hot yesterday and again today, the kind of heat that pushes flower buds to open faster, faster, faster, and so as if on cue to say “Thanks for not cutting me down, Mom,” guess who started to really bloom?