Planting a birth tree, a little known tradition
As a new mama, I’m thinking about the traditions I can build for our little family. Holidays. Birthdays. Sunday mornings. Traditions keep a family together.
I’ve been thinking back to my family’s traditions, and one of my favorites is the cedar tree my mom planted in honor of my birth. Strong, constant and resistant to drought, the incense cedar embodies characteristics my parents saw in me at a very early age.
Throughout my childhood, I thought of the cedar as “my” tree. We took pictures of me in front of it, hugging it. I watched it grow – at first it was bigger than me, then there was a stage where I stood taller than it, and then before too long it towered over me. In the summer, I loved to sit in its shade and picnic, and in the winter, I loved to clip branches to decorate for Christmas.
Unfortunately, because of a forest fire that destroyed my childhood home, the tree no longer stands, nor do we have photos of it. Another story for another day. But I can picture it in my mind, its deep green branches and mahogany brown, spicy smelling bark.
I loved my birth tree, and want to pass down the tradition to my children. Joe and I have been talking about what tree to plant for Baby G in the backyard of our new home. It’s one of the first home projects we plan to complete upon moving in.
Because Baby G was born on January 1, we want a tree that will be attractive in the winter (we’re planning ahead for annual birthday photographs). It doesn’t necessarily have to be an evergreen, but we want it to at least have some interesting bark throughout the cold months. Maybe a white birch or poplar?
We also want it to stand for some of the traits we see in her. Traits that when she is uncertain or insecure we can remind her of the unwavering tree that stands in her honor, and perhaps she can draw strength from it.
That said, we also need it to grow well in central coast California. It would be pretty sad to have to explain to Baby G why her birth tree shriveled up and died. We’re in luck because a lot of beautiful plants, both native and imported, thrive in this area.
Did you know that we all have birth trees, just as we have birthstones? Well we do – as I just learned myself – and according to ancient Celtic tradition, Baby G is the apple tree.
But I also have a fondness for the gorgeous, summer blooming crepe myrtle. Crepe myrtles are the southern belle of any garden, which I think fits nicely with Baby G’s name and personality.
Planting a birth trees is kind of a little-known tradition, but to me, that’s what makes it special. It also can help instill in children a love and respect for nature, something that is very important to me as a mother.
What do you think of the birth tree tradition? Have you done it yourself, or do you plan to? Do you have suggestions for the perfect birth tree for our little one?