The Mimosa

Back in Smyrna, David and I purchased a brick cottage, which we lived in for eight years. During that time I nurtured a latent Mimosa tree into a vigorous blossoming canopy. I have a strong sentiment toward the Mimosa. It was elegant with long, agile branches and detailed fronds. The tree brought me back to the tropical terrain of my childhood in South Florida, and a warm, cozy feeling of home rushed over me whenever I looked at the graceful limbs.

Once we settled into our home, we realized there was much work to be done in the garden. The landscape became an ongoing project that spanned the next few years. I noticed the Mimosa in its dark, hidden place under the Magnolia tree, among the spindly pecan and pine trees. I wanted to give nourishment to the tree that lay shriveled in the dim light. Ivy crawled along the smooth trunk that was a large, robust arch. There were no flowers due to lack of sunshine over the years.

Beneath the tree, there was a large patch of ground cover, which had an assortment of, liriope, ivy, and periwinkle. This patch stayed under the tree for a couple of years until one day I decided to do away with it and discover what lay underneath. First, I eliminated the ivy with a potent weed poison. After a few days the leaves folded back and dried up before I faced the arduous task of pulling every intertwined vine from its root. I started to uncover the raw ground, which involved a few weeks of toil. Small threads remained in the soil as I admired the Mimosa’s protruding roots, winding around and entangling one another.

Once the infrastructure was exposed, I laid grass seed in between the large roots. After a couple of rainy days and with the thick moisture of summer, the Kentucky grass seed germinated. Thin, chartreuse blades enhanced the bedrock of the tree. Within three weeks, the grass filled in and became a striking sightto see.

Next, I worked on finding sunshine for the tree. I cut back the Magnolia’s limbs to shed light on the desperate Mimosa, which foraged the sun’s nutrients. The pecan and pine trees were cut down by a tree service and as a result, daylight sprinkled on the once badly lit area. It was only a matter of weeks until the tree came out of hiding and flourished over the next couple of years. The limbs grew rapidly as the fronds unraveled and stretched their long fingers into the moist atmosphere in the garden. The yellow-green of the herbaceous fronds illuminated the garden and birds came to perch on the high limbs.

Though the offshoots grew quickly, it took a couple of years for the Mimosa to propagate any flowers. Without the touch of heat and light, there hadn’t been enough nutrients to produce blossoms. But now, pink, globular forms appeared at the crest of the tree. They were lacy and delicate with thin, extended filament.

The green of the tree dripped with dew and grew wildly in the south. Summer brought dashing flowers that disappeared in autumn. They fell and slipped gracefully from the limbs and adorned the new grass. Pink flora spiraled down through the supple, damp air. Eventually, they would decay and melt into the ground. Later, spring would bring the blossoms back again.

Over the years, with much pruning, the Mimosa grew, forming a large cover over the cobblestone driveway. The fronds were wispy in the way they moved with the wind and when the breeze came to a hush the fronds would lay quietly. The Mimosa’s ferny, pale leaves are sensitive to light and fold in at night. The evenings were most soothing with the slight rustling of fine leaves. I could hear a shimmering sound from my bedroom window. After all that hard labor, I had nurtured this once-fragile being into a vigorous tree.

Those steamy, hot days in Smyrna helped the Mimosa grow into a charming tree. In the mornings, as I stood in the garden admiring the limbs from afar, I experienced sweet memories of childhood. The Mimosa added tenderness to the quaint gardens that surrounded our cottage.

Back in Florida, there was an abundance of Mimosa trees. They crave the hot, moist days of that region. I remember a tree similar in appearance on my parent’sfront lawn. The red, puffy flowers exuded a tropical presence and warmed my soul the seventeen years growing up in Miami. When I stood in front of the Mimosa in Smyrna, there wasn’t any particular memory of Florida that came back to me – just a sense of home. The way these feelings appear every once in a while is abstract, much like a scent that triggers emotions from a certain moment in time. What I remember most is running around in the heat of summer with moist, thick air clinging to my skin. I remember the pouring-down rain that passed over our house in the mid-to-late afternoons, and then the sun shining brilliantly once the rain had gone. These emotions came back when I would look at the Mimosa in Smyrna.