There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

the evergreen (tree)

AFTER ABUSING THEM last winter (ivy winters well in Atlanta, if you keep it watered), I've miraculously saved both of my ivy topiaries. One of them (photo at right) is looking pretty good right now. What were once very lush topiaries several years back, are now much more sparse. I like the sparseness—it's not so predictable—now that the ivy is older and has woody stems. The interlaced stems are beautiful by themselves. I must admit though, my other topiary is formed by mostly stems, but the hardy nature of English ivy has kept a bit of green interspersed. Ivy, like life does have a perniciously tenacious quality, huh? You must keep it watered and nourished and it will grow and fill out around the structure you've provided.

ACCORDING TO THE Topiary Organisation, the topiary is one of the most ancient of garden crafts. According to what I've learned over the years, living evergreen decoration has long been an element in winter solstice (and later, Christmas decorations). Pagan tradition holds the belief that winter evergreens are a promise for another spring—symbolizing life's continuity. Evergreen decorations became ritualized at temples and even inside the home in winter celebrations because of the promise of new life. This symbology became Christianized (even though the early Christian church banned the use of evergreens because of its pagan associations). We all know now that the evergreen has developed into the holiday (or Christmas) tree and is an everlasting symbol of hope and merriment for most of the world. Whatever your belief, there is definitely an underlying reason for the hold it has on our imaginations.

IVY HAS LONG BEEN a symbol of love and fidelity, but the reverence to nature is important to me in any case. It's indisputable that the evergreen tree is resonant with many of the world's people. My evergreen topiary trees are symbols in a satisfyingly austere way, and I'm happy I can keep them alive!

"When you create within a sacred paradigm, you find a strange thing.
You are communicating with, and being fed by, sources you know are within you,
but have a much greater reflection somewhere else.
You are in touch with something timeless.” —playwright Elizabeth Fuller
photography and styling by Darryl Moland

TENACIOUS TOPIARY | One of the survivors outside my door (above).

PEACE SYMBOL | The dove topiary 
at Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston (left). 

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