Saturday, May 12, 2007

What a Difference A Day Makes

The other day I snapped this photo of a plump purple beech bud in my backyard. At that time, the tree's copper coloured fall leaves were still stubbornly clinging to their branches. This is a tree that takes its time to get going in the spring. I try not to place too many expectations on it at this time of year. Just like me, it doesn't need the pressure. A steady but leisurely pace will do just fine. As a result, I use this time to watch the buds plump up and count the leaves as they drop.

This morning when I looked out at the tree, it looked different. All the leaves had fallen off and the beech itself looked taller, fuller and more mature somehow. I rushed out to take a closer look and realized the beech was about to make a show-stopping, grand entrance. A fresh batch of dark purple and crimson leaves was opening and the tree seemed to say to me "I'm back."

Welcome back buddy! My husband and I planted the purple beech for our daughter on her first birthday almost three years ago. It was a tiny little thing and unspectacular to start, or so I thought. As it turns out, "unspectacular" is the wrong word to describe the beech.

In spring, its leaves are purple to start and tinged with bright red as they open. In late summer they turn a deep green. Come autumn they are a fiery orange. In the light of a sunset, the tree positively generates warmth with its glow. Long after other trees are bare, crinkly, copper leaves continue to hang on to the beech providing months of vibrant colour when I need it most.

Last summer was an exceptional time for the beech. I read online that a little extra water in the heat of late July and August was a good idea and might even result in a growth spurt. That advice was bang on. I swear the beech shot up by about a foot through the end of summer and into fall. I plan to follow through with the same regime this year.

A beech has the potential to reach 100 feet tall. Pretty impressive. But even at six feet and counting, I'm already impressed.

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