At the bach, space is limited and we are surrounded in native trees. What would be a good Kiwi Christmas tree? I wondered. Down the drive I found some manuka saplings that needed to be removed. After cutting a couple, I bedded them into a small bucket of earth.
Then, out from the loft I pulled out the Christmas decorations that have been used for many years. My granddaughter Sophie (now 16), always used to visit to decorate the tree before Christmas. Mira is only 2 1/2. Could she manage it? First she watched me loop a few of the little angels over the branches of the manuka. Then it was 'me do it' — one of her favourite phrases. And she could do it - beautifully. She observed so exactly and handled each ornament with great finesse.
Manuka is a 'nurse plant'; that is, where the bush has been cut or burned, little manuka seedlings pop up everywhere and grow rapidly, protecting the slower growing forest trees. After 20 - 30 years they graciously die away, allowing the big trees to take over. I felt like a nurse plant myself, a granny protecting the younger generation, knowing that eventually I will topple and make way for them to take over.
And so we had our Kiwi Christmas tree.