I went for a walk in Bath’s Botanical Gardens this week. It was disheartening to see that one of my favourite trees, a blossom tree, had been removed. All that remained of it was a stump.
I remembered a piece I wrote, written some time ago. Here’s an edited version – stripped back and hacked, just like the tree:
Through the Queen’s Gate that holds a bronze lion, I follow the Royal Avenue to where I want to go. I pass the bandstand, the Crescent and an old torn tennis ball. I find The Botanical Gardens of Bath. I don’t walk far because I am struck by the sight of one tree. Branches abound with buds spill to the ground. Its name turns out to be: Prunus Pendula Plena Rosea. Drooping Rosebud Cherry, its common name, poised, pretty in bloom.
I sit on a weathered bench, ‘Dedicated to Charles Hall who loved these gardens’, and soon realise as I gaze at the veil that I am not the only one drawn in. A small girl, barely five, skips through the hanging shroud of spring and twirls around the trunk. Another girl, a couple of years taller, makes her move in. She gives a strand a yank and leaves.
The distant sound of cars is mellow, but the grumble of a Harley Davidson roars and a siren bleats. I hear a melody. Something that sounds like a cheeky gopher squeaks from a different tree. Birds chatter and a bumblebee hovering below the bench, hums. A rattle of a scooter comes from around the corner; the boy wearing a hood that says, ‘Just Do It,’ stops to adjust his glasses. “Look at that tree, it’s like an umbrella.”
Those who stop to admire the tree don’t see me lounging on the bench. “This is nice,” says one man. Then it is Granddad’s time to hide. “Ready or not, here I come: one, two, three …”
Tiny midges dance in the sky between me and the tree. Like painted horses on a merry-go-round, they dart up-and-down-and-up in lines. It seems pointless somehow.