I’ve been spending some quality time with trees this spring and making a bunch of new essences. Tree flowering season isn’t quite over yet here in MA - we still have a few things blooming in June like Hawthorn, Linden and Catalpa. But for the most part, the fireworks have passed for 2022. So far this year, I’ve made Eastern Hemlock, Ginkgo, Katsura, Weeping Cherry, Holly and Pitch Pine essences.
I’d hoped to work with the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) tree too. I found a great candidate back in February. (See my previous post.) I've spent some time with it this spring and searched for buds but haven’t seen anything. Sure enough, the tree isn’t going to flower this year which I find interesting.
I haven't been able to find much info about whether it's typical for these trees to skip a blooming cycle. Most sources say that once a tree is mature enough to flower, it will continue to bloom, year after year, for potentially 200+ years. So I'm wondering if this particular tree is stressed in some way. It takes energy to bloom, and maybe it needs to save its resources for some other purpose. Tulip Poplars are vulnerable to root and stem rot and sometimes scale and powdery mildew, so any of those things could be a factor.
I’m sorry that this project didn’t pan out, but I also kind of love that it didn't. What didn't happen here invites me into an even deeper relationship with this tree. I'm curious now about its blooming cycles, about the absence of flowers and what this might mean for the tree, itself, and for a future essence. It's also called my attention to my own agendas in doing this work. Nature has its own rhythms of course. It's fine to hold intentions for essence work, but at the end of the day, my role is really just to pay attention and be available when (and if) the time is right for an essence to come into being.
It took me several tries to make the Eastern Hemlock essence this year. My first attempts went off the rails because people interfered, my essence water spilled, etc. I did wonder whether I should maybe wait with this essence because so many things were going wrong. I decided to give it a final shot, and all of the details fell into place.
I found both young male and female cones which I used in the essence. I was able to stand for a long time under the tree’s protective canopy and soak up its considerable presence. The day - in terms of sun and wind and uninterrupted space - felt ideal, quite a bit better than it had on the other days. This may be reading too much into the arc of this experience, but it almost seemed as though an influence outside of myself was nixing the project until some of the conditions improved.
* A bunch of people expressed an interest in joining a Tulip Poplar study group this summer which I won't be able to do for obvious reasons. I'm going to open a different tree study to 10-15 volunteers in July featuring Ginkgo Biloba. Drop me a note if Ginkgo speaks to you and you'd like to join! I'll send you a free 1/2-ounce bottle of the Ginkgo essence which you'll take 2-3x/day for a week. I'll ask you a few questions about your experience and compile everyone's feedback here and on the Delta Gardens blog.
Below: Tulip Poplar (minus flowers), Eastern Hemlock and the essence in process, Ginkgo