The cold winter this year managed to kill of a number of plants in our garden, amongst them were two Bay Trees. They weren’t the pretties Bay Tree but their leaves were very useful for the Sunday roast and in a stew.
For some reason, best known to someone in the trade, Bay Trees are very expensive to buy, but I had a cunning plan. I knew my Dad had grown some Bay Trees from seed in pots in his garden. So, when we visited recently, I acquired a couple.
Both of these trees had lovely straight trunks but had been left far too long in rather small pots making the branches all spindly with a rather lonely looking and sparse set of leaves.
As I was looking at these leaves and wondering what to do my Dad walked up behind me and said “put them in a new pot, prune them right back and they’ll grow a storm”.
And that is precisely what I did; with a couple of nice big pots, a bag of compost and my trusty secateurs I got to work.
By the time I had finished there were two pots, two straight trunks, and not too much else. If these two had stayed like that it would have been a tragedy and a waste of time, but I was confident that it wouldn’t be.
A good pruning was precisely what these two immature trees needed.
It’s been a few weeks since I gave the trees their crew-cut and, as expected, they’ve grown a storm with leaves and buds all over the place. The toughest bark has become some of the most fertile areas. They are starting to look like trees again. There are still scars from the pruning, but the growth is already worth the disfigurement. There’s even growth right next to the point where the branches have been dissected.
"I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”