Why we planted a tree to celebrate the birth of our new baby

Our red oak tree when it was still in the nursery

Breathing and relaxation techniques aren’t the only thing a mum learns these days at antenatal classes. There are now a whole host of other things to think about. For example, if you’re not ready to give up your placenta after the birth, you can opt to eat it, give it to medical science or take it home to plant underneath the rose bushes. Yes, that’s right. New mums the world over are now planting their placentas as a way to honour their child’s first source of nutrition.

Now I can’t even remember delivering or even seeing the placenta after C was born, but I know I gave my permission for it to be taken away and used for research purposes. It was probably a good decision too – since one of our neighbour’s cats had been digging and using our flowerbeds as its litter tray.

So while I didn’t bring the afterbirth home in a Tupperware container, my husband and I still wanted to follow tradition by planting a special birth-tree to celebrate C’s arrival into the world.

There were just so many factors to take into consideration. Would it be evergreen or deciduous and was it right for our garden? We didn’t want something that might cause structural damage to our home, or one that would block out the sunlight during the summer months. Choosing a tree with special significance was certainly not as easy as it sounded either. In fact, I’d say it was like choosing C’s name all over again.

I had initially set my heart on a Rowan because I loved its bright orange berries, while my husband had spent time weighing up the pros and cons of a pretty pink cherry tree on his iPad. Finally our different perspectives came together to form a better idea. We opted for an oak. After all, great oaks were supposed to grow from little acorns, so it suited the occasion perfectly.

We hit the Google search button once more as there were dozens of different varieties and we knew some of them could grow quite big. We eventually settled on a red oak due to its bright red autumnal colouring. Given that it would take 20 years before the tree was ready to flower, and another 20 years before it produced a good crop of acorns, we weren’t going to worry about its eventual size.

I think the hardest part was waiting for it to arrive and hoping it resembled the tree in the online picture when it did. It was a bit of a skinny, scraggly looking specimen when it was offloaded from the truck into our back garden – not so mighty for an oak! Still, we knew great things often had small beginnings, so we set to work preparing the soil.

After finishing the graft, I felt like we hadn’t just planted a tree for C, but we had planted one for the world. It was a good feeling and all I can say is – we need to plant more trees!

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