Nine years ago we were spending our first winter here at Rosehaven Cottage. To our delight, the neighbor had a very mature loquat tree growing on the south side of our house right along the fence line. I'd never seen a loquat tree in person before moving here. Although its thick waxy leaves look wonderfully tropical, it's a hardy tree that can withstand temps below freezing.
For the first couple of years, we loved the shade the tree provided in the heat of summer and the evergreen foliage and blooms it provided in the starkness of winter. The squirrels loved it too, scampering up and down the top of the fence to get to the delicious fruit whenever it was ripe in late spring.
Then the house next door sold to a new owner. And one Sunday we looked out our window to find that the tree was gone. We were moved to tears. And it wrenched our hearts watching the very confused squirrels come running down the top of the fence and then stop where the tree used to be and look up as if to say, "What happened here?"
Needless to say, the following summer was hotter on the south side of our house. And the fence looked starker. I wasn't happy (tree lover that I am).
But all was not lost, thanks to our little squirrel friends. During those days they had munched on ripe loquats, they had also buried the pits in the ground below on our side of the fence. And it wasn't long before I saw little loquat seedlings coming up amidst the ivy that grows there. As they got bigger, I dug a couple up to put in pots (one now lives in my mother-in-law's garden). A few stayed in the ground and as they matured, I trimmed them and thinned them so that only the best formed trees stayed.
Year after year, the loquat seedlings have gotten bigger and their large tropical dark-green leaves have multiplied. But no blossoms. Year after year and no blossoms. If there aren't any blossoms, there won't be any fruit. I thought maybe the loquats grown from seed were sterile. Well, at least I could enjoy the foliage, right?
But this winter, around Christmas, I noticed clusters were forming on the tree! Would we really have blossoms? A couple of weeks later, and we do indeed have blossoms! I've seen a few bees buzzing around them. I'm hoping we have enough bees to pollinate them (last summer we had hardly any bees in the garden and the ones I do find are dead on the ground). If enough pollinators do their job, the squirrels will have their loquats again.
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