When I was but a wee lass, I was uprooted from my Australian home and whisked to lands far, far away. Finding myself in Austin, Texas, and homeless to boot, I felt comforted that my foster home, Cornerstone Hardware (which no longer exists, sad to say) had adult versions of me growing in the great out-of-doors, and these big parental units were quite beautiful in the late spring and early summer. And I had a a couple of siblings with me, which made me feel quite taken care of. We were all quite young, maybe 2 feet tall at the most.
Imagine my surprise when early in April of 2000, my true mom found me and it was love at first sight! Well, I think she actually fell in love with the parental units, and she could see the potential in me. She seemed to handle the adoption speedily enough, and apparently in the US of A, the most important paper for plant adoption is something called a “credit card.”
Though my new mom was pretty clueless about me, she knew she loved me and treated me that way. I told her I needed lots of sunshine, so she found the sunniest spot in her yard and put me in the dirt. (Well, really it was Blackland Prairie clay, but I didn’t tell her otherwise). She didn’t know she was supposed to give me food, so I managed to find enough to get by from the dark, gummy clay. She forgot to ask about how I do or don’t like the cold (I really don’t), so she left me on the northwest sunny corner of the yard without a winter coat. I learned to be tough, even when I was iced over a couple of times. She came by and talked to me every day, and I loved her despite her clueless, blond behavior. I know she meant well.
After 9 years, I’ve given her many years of delightful blooms. And the neighbors! Oh, my, the neighbors are always asking about me this time of year. I must be quite the rockstar around here. So this year, she told me she wanted to honor me and tell the world about how I tease her every April with thousands of little buds all over. She checks me daily, to see how the buds are doing. I love to slowly draw out her anticipation.
This is how I started this year, with just a hint of things to come.
With all the new stuff happening in the yard over the past year, my mom has been really giving me the spa treatment. I got a great haircut last fall, and then she let me have all the chocolate, I mean compost, that I wanted.
I’m pretty happy about all that.
I slowly let her start to get a peek of what to expect; very, very soon now.
I invited a few friends to join in. This year, I have lots of showing off to do.
And then? It rained! Glorious rain! Oh, it’s been so long.
See what good can happen to those who wait?
Because I’m nearly 12 feet tall now, I invite hundreds of my closest friends over for dinner constantly. They are quite the little gluttons, but I don’t mind. I have plenty of food to share.
Now everyone is happy. I love my home, and have rewarded my mom with years of this show every May, June and sometimes into July. Often, I’ll do it again in September or October. A couple of years ago, we had lovely rain all summer long, and I just kept on blooming all summer long. It was fun! And I still have a blast watching the neighbors stop their cars and gawk when I’m in full plumage. Everybody wants to know my name, which is really Callistemon
citrinus ‘Splendens’. But since ya’ll are my new friends, you can call me Babe, the Bottlebrush Tree. Drive by and check me out sometime!