Ode to a Robinson Crabapple Tree

Oh wavy tree, your trunk meandering nigh
Belies descriptions I so often read.
In catalogs, desirable symmetry…
Yet in my yard, Van Gogh not Klimt doth tread.

Your flowers - bright magenta - turn to pink,
Each spring I wait, anticipate the show.
But they emerge, and barely do I blink,
So short the time before away they go.

Now purple leaves turn bronze-green in their place.
Unruly branches sprout red fruits in fall,
Our christmas globes, the season to embrace,
But oh, I can’t get past your crooked sprawl!

Extoll your merits I may, but still can’t bear
This Dr. Seuss tree swerving here and there.

In 2017, I replaced a dying but lovely Zelkova. Extensive research landed me at a Robinson Crabapple, which offered flowers, attractive bark, berries, a generally symmetrical form, and appropriate root formation (it’s near a water pipe), while still being disease and pest resistant. Based on what I’d read, the Robinson Crabapple ticked all the boxes.

I enlisted my boys and husband to help plant it, convinced that as the tree grew over the years I’d not only love it, but love the memory of all of us working together to nurture what was sure to be a glorious defining feature of my front yard. A few things have happened in the five years since, though.

While I used to love planting and yard work as a child, my sons do not. This isn’t, therefore, the tree that we all look at with fond memories of togetherness. Hearing them tell it, they were conscripted for hard labor that day, toiling in the mud against unreasonable expectations of their ability to dig a hole and hold the tree straight while we filled it in. They have no affinity for the tree, and really wish we’d just have paid someone to put it in.

That’s sad, but I could get over it. The big issue: I don’t like the profile of the tree. Erratic is a good word for it. Unruly. Unkempt. While many stock photos appear as if the branches and trunk of Robinsons are straighter, they’re really not. And while I appreciate it in others’ landscapes having spotted them more since having my own, I just really don’t think it’s my style. I had a classic structure in mind, and this just doesn’t have it.

So I enjoyed its flowers again this spring. I marveled at its shiny burgundy bark as I walked the big dog last night. And I admitted this morning that it may be time to eulogize my Robinson Crabapple after all.

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