I killed our apple tree this winter when I pruned it. Ducking under its lopped stubs, I hung the long-handled cutting tool on its pegs. How could the poor tree survive that, I wondered.
It’s happened before, when I worried I went too far in my efforts to improve a plant’s productivity. But what I’ve seen is that a season of severe pruning often foreshadows a wonderful change coming, like when I prepared to give birth to my firstborn son.
Houseplants, beware of pregnant women
My nesting instinct kicked into overdrive. All morning I worked at getting my house in order. I clipped away at my leggy, overgrown potted plant until the last few leaves begged for mercy. Later, as I surveyed the damage, I feared for its life.
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2 NIV).
I must have known, somewhere in my deepest being, that labor would begin that day. The plant suffered under the coming tide of birthing hormones, and I struggled later under childbirth pain, but the outcomes of both were very much worth it.
Months later, hugging my squirming toddler, I admired the healthier, stronger plant flourishing in its pot.
Spring came, mostly
The trees flowered all over the valley, waving in the wind like a bunch of ladies in their new dresses, but for the longest time my apple tree stood stark naked. It had to be dead, displaying only short, broken sticks.
I waited, and the blossoms on many of the neighborhood trees turned brown. Then, a springtime miracle. Popping out from the mass of spikes was one little dainty pink blossom.
“See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come.” (Song of Solomon 2:11-12).
Even though my husband teased that we would only get one apple this year, I still hummed a happy tune. That one blossom proved there was still life happening, and hope for more fruit in the future.
However, I’ve got to learn to be more careful.
by Kathy Sheldon Davis