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Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

So sang Peter, Paul and Mary – although in my mind it is the Seekers’ version, which is the one I heard growing up.

This is the story of a very persistent lemon tree. Nearly 11 years ago, we bought our house – a townhouse in a small development of seven. We live on a major road, but the houses are set back from the road, up a steep drive, nestled behind a large rock. Our house butts up against the rock, with just a narrow passage between the side of the house and the cut face of rock. Soon after we moved in, I discovered a lemon tree growing out of the rock face. It was covered in vicious thorns, and bore a decent crop of fruit – knobbly, ugly looking things, no good for zesting but with loads of juice. Oh bliss! I love lemons, and I love cooking with them. With only a courtyard, and that so permanently shaded that nothing but weeds will grow in it, having my own lemon tree was an unexpected bonus.

Imagine my disappointment when the gardener who looked after the common property in our development arrived and cut my lemon tree down! I came home to find him loading the corpse into the back of his ute (pickup truck to my American friends), a couple of forlorn lemons falling unheeded to the ground. Disaster! Apparently, my lemon tree was a common lemon – considered a weed.

I mourned that tree for months, but then, one day I noticed a vigorous new shoot coming up in the same place as before. In next to no time, my lemon tree was back! Needless to say, I happily raided it again, and enjoyed its bounty until the next visit of the gardener, to re-enact the massacre. This time I had more faith in my tree, and it didn’t disappoint me. A couple of months later it was business as usual on the lemon front. So the cycle went on. Periodically the gardener would do his best to rid us of this pest and the tree would take the punishment and then just quietly regenerate.

That gardener eventually left us, and we had a hiatus in the saga of the persistent lemon, until recently. The spot where my lemon tree is had become very overgrown with ivy – another pernicious weed in these parts! – and the Owners’ Corporation hired a handyman to come and clear it out. He did a very thorough job, razing everything, including my lemon tree. I wasn’t here to witness the carnage, but he did mutter darkly about drastic measures like poison. Well the rock face looked very bare and grey when he was done. Gone were the tendrils of ivy that had been creeping, slowly and steadily, towards our garage door, carrying with them an accumulation of dead leaves from the big gum tree. And I could see no sign of my lemon tree. Would this finally be the end for my persistent lemon?

Today I happened to glance over at the rock as I was passing. This is what I saw. It may be a weed, but I think this lemon tree is meant to be. And that makes me happy!

Frame: Cottage Arts Thankful Page Pak. Cottage Arts Everyday 6 Paper Pak. Fonts: Love Ya Like a Sister, Clicker Script, Maiandra

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16 Responses to Blog: The Persistence of the Lemon

  1. That lemon tree is meant to be! Loved your story Alison!

  2. Viv says:

    I loved your story – a Garden is not complete without a lemon tree. I hate having to buy them when my tree gives up for the year.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Oh! I love lemons too! I can’t begin to imagine how wonderful it would be to have a lemon tree in your back yard. My friend in California once sent me lemons from her tree one year, which was bliss, and my mother-in-law gave me lemons from her neighbor’s tree in Texas at Thanksgiving this year, which I promptly juiced and zested when I got home and put in the freezer so we’d have the taste of sunshine in the middle of the winter. I’m so, so happy for you and your tree!

  4. sistersunshine says:

    Now I’m humming that song… and loving it… a weed as defined by my farmer hubby is ANY plant that grows where it’s NOT wanted… so to you it’s a beautiful thing… to the common association a weed… Glad yours is so resilient. *U* Kathleen

  5. shirley shingara says:

    What a lovely story! Enjoy your lemons!

  6. Penny says:

    Love this story, the page, the song, and LEMONS (wrinkly and knobby or not!).

  7. Deanna Emmert says:

    This is a great lesson on persistence and patience, in spite of circumstances. 🙂 Thanks, Alison.

  8. Alison says:

    Thanks Ada! Yeah indeed!

  9. adakallen adakallen says:

    Great story! Yeah for the lemon tree!

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