Yesterday was Shel Silverstein's birthday. I saw someone post about it on Facebook and my mind immediately jumped to The Giving Tree. It was a childhood favorite, and it is something of an anthem for garden designers.
I had a quick horticultural thought about what (exactly) type of tree was in the story...it was a nondescript apple tree...and then I launched into thoughts about how much this book played a part in my chosen profession and design sensibility. While I always found the book to be sad (even though the tree is supposedly happy to provide the old man a place to sit) I latched onto the idea that we can partner with trees and nature and that everyone (people and nature) can benefit from it.
I have also found design inspiration in the story. One of the most satisfying things I have done as a designer was to help a good friend (and client) choose three trees to plant in her garden - one for each of her children. At the time, they were all under 4 (2 boys and a girl) and we choose a Serviceberry, a Crabapple and a Magnolia (in order to protect the innocent, I won't explain why we choose what we did). But our idea was to give these trees to the children and help them to know that the tree was chosen just for them and why. I didn't exactly think about it at the time, but what we were trying to give each of them was their very own Giving Tree.
I have always meant to get around to similarly choosing and planting trees for my own children and as I note Shel's birthday (and it is a perfect time of year for planting trees), this has me thinking...I need to get on that before they are all grown up.
I'm using some websites to help me choose trees that suit their personalities, my hopes for them, and their dreams for themselves. Have you ever planted a tree for a child? Wouldn't it be a lovely gift for a baby to not only plant a tree, but to give them a copy of the The Giving Tree?
Here are some of the web resources I am letting wash over me as I contemplate tree choices.
- A site that has a variety of tree meanings.
- A site full of legends about trees.
- A fun site about Mythical forests.
- Based on Celtic Astrology - find what tree you "fell from".
- Take this quiz to find out your tree archetype (I was a birch -- what are you?)
I'm curious, have you planted trees for children or babies and if so, what did you plant and why?
(Image: composite of book cover and Shutterstock)