My Kwanzan cherry tree

Plants have a way of connecting me to the past. I can remember the shade of the rose blossoms that were in our yard in Queens. The story goes that my grandmother took a cutting of it while walking home from work one day, rooted it, and then gave it to my parents to grow. (I wish I had known how to do the same when I was 13 and we had to move.)

I grow pear trees because my grandfather used to have one in his backyard. (After I planted two Kieffer trees, I learned he actually had a Bartlet. Oops.) He grew tomatoes and cucumbers along his property that ran along the LIRR tracks. There was a whole portion of unused land that his neighbor  allowed him to grow raspberry bushes on. He made arbors out of pipes during the 1940s that he trained grapes to grow on that he made into wine. When I spent time in his garden in the 1980s and 1990s, he no longer made the wine, but we ate the fruit.

July 1980 in Queens. In this photo, my uncle, cousin and grandfather stand
out front behind the Kwanzan cherry tree.
But what stands out the most from my grandfather's garden, perhaps which I  miss the most, is the Kwanzan cherry tree that grew in his front yard. It took a while for me to figure out which species of tree he grew, but one day when going home from pastry school, the whole parking lot had the same type of tree in bloom. I took photos and used that to track down what type of tree it was.

This photo was taken after pastry class in Hartford, CT.

So, needless to say, when we moved to our first home in 2009, the first tree I planted in the dead center of the lawn was my own Kwanzan cherry tree.


When it blooms in the spring, as seen in the photo above taken today, it always reminds me of my childhood. I would climb the tree and pick the blossoms to put in my hair. I think he would be happy to see it out front.

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