Back to top

A Tree That Means Home

April 19, 2018

My tree is not tall nor mighty today, but what it represents is powerful. It is a symbol of the journey my family and I have been on as we have moved from state to state and from country to country.

Trees have always been an important part of our home and our back yard, no matter where we were living. In fact, when looking for a home to buy or rent, we have always gone straight to through the house to the back yard in search of the most important space--a place to relax, reflect and rejuvenate.

While the landscapes have changed and the type of foliage we have in our yards has evolved, the one tree that has always been the most special to me and part of nearly every yard I've nurtured is the river birch. I think this tree is so special to me because it stands out as unique and one-of-a-kind compared to many other trees. Its bark is different and its coloring naturally draws one's eyes. It's almost as if the tree is beckoning me to pause a bit longer on it to take it in and appreciate all of its differences.

We have always had river birches in our back yard, and so we were delighted when moving back to Wheaton three years ago to find that the house we fell in love with also came with a large and beautiful river birch. However, in the first two summers, the tree showed signs that it was no longer flourishing, and by the third summer, despite intervention, the tree had to be cut down.

It was quite a loss for us, as it changed the look and feel of the back yard, and there was a big gap in the yard where the mighty river birch once stood. We replaced it in late summer with a new birch--not a river birch, but a Whitespire gray birch (Betula populifolia 'Whitespire'.) I worried that the new tree would not survive the winter, but Spring has sprung, and the small but sturdy birch seems to be thriving.

While it's not as tall and as full of leaves as its predecessor, seeing the tree begin to come to life again within the past few weeks has been brilliant. I don't know how long we will be in this home, but I do know that the birch will continue to be an important part of our lives and our personal space, no matter where we call home.

Newly planted whitespire birch in landscape

Find more stories in: