For a decade now Chris and I have worked in these gardens to restore and enhance the old plantings with new plantings of new varieties of exotic plants. We both share a great respect for the history of this land and the generations of people who have worked and shaped it before us, and a love of the natural world around us. And I believe in God, am a member of a local church and desire to follow Jesus Christ.
In 1965 when the property ceased being a commercial nursery the cleared land gently healed, covering itself with the pioneer species – the familiar silver wattle, evident now across much of Cadby’s Gully and the surrounding slopes. These mature trees form the canopy of much of our woodland gardens under which we have planted thousands of new rhododendrons, vireyas and other exotic garden plants. These fifty year old wattles are now old and unstable and during every severe storm, a few of them inevitably come crashing down.
Over the past decade we have seen several dozen of these large trees fall. Time after time we have witnessed these giants fallen amongst our garden plantings without damaging anything. The branches of the fallen tree will lie stretched out among the garden plantings crisscrossing over them but not harming them.
On occasion a branch or two will be knocked off by the falling giant, or a cage is crushed or damaged, and a couple of times a rhododendron or vireya has been bent over, pinned down under the weight of the tree or fallen limb, but never have we ever lost a plant. It’s astounding actually.
It’s not only the wattles that fall, sometimes one of the old exotic trees will break or collapse, but again, never have our young plants been destroyed.
Today I discovered that during the severe weather of the previous few days, the top had blown out of a large dead wattle tree and crashed across the creek reaching to the other side of the gully, spanning two distinct rhododendron beds. Though it had miraculously missed four plants on one side of the gully, it had broken one very spindly specimen in a garden bed on the other side of the creek (I think it will survive, but time will tell). I mention this because it is the first time in a decade where a young plant has been really damaged in this way.
And it’s not just the garden plants that are missed by the crashing trees. We have several bridges across the creek and never have they been struck and damaged either, though large trees have fallen very close by.
I cannot explain this phenomenon, only describe it. Every time I see it unfold, I give thanks for the gentle kindness that seems to protect the plants in the garden. I thank the trees of the forest for their beauty and quiet guardianship, and the polite way they fall during storms. Daily I offer my work and the gardens to God to do with as He wants, and as I go about my chores I pray for the people who come to visit the gardens. Does this influence the way the trees fall? I believe so, but actually don’t know. I just make mention of it as a correlation, and recommend a close friendship with God, daily prayer, and treating our fellow creatures with genuine respect, as a way of life.