Kousa Dogwood in full bloom

A tree grows in Fairfield, in our backyard, taking over the garden, the house, and the patio. The Kousa Dogwood in bloom is gorgeous. In one month all the flowers turn brown and ripen into juicy berries with a bitter/astringent taste. The exterior of the berry is tough and bumpy and the only way to eat it is to suck out the fruit. A few years back, I decided to make some Kousa berry jam. I picked the berries after they ripened, mashed them and cooked them down with sugar in a saucepan until the jam was formed. After cooling, I poured the jam into mason jars and gave them to family members for Christmas.

The jam was pretty good, not delicious. The taste improved when blanketed on a cracker with a dollop of cream cheese. Despite my attempt, I didn’t think I could turn the Kousa jam-making into a side business. Perhaps the flavor would have improved by adding those tried and true Holiday ingredients: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, orange citrus, and ginger. I was left with a special colander for making jam, and special jam jars, that I have since donated to all my friends and family to make their own jam. Speaking of jars – If you’re not a fan of jam, you can use those wonderful Mason jars for candy or sugared almonds, tie a ribbon around it and voilà, a lovely gift for any occasion.

Fruit

Meanwhile, we had a very fruitful Kousa Dogwood, I pruned the branches when the flowers began to brown to keep away as much fruit as possible. Alas, all that accomplished was to make the tree smaller so that the shade provided on our patio minimized. The job of collecting the fruit kept us busy picking it off the tree, and those that we missed, fell onto the lawn and patio, squishing under our feet and the lawnmower. It’s a shame the jam was not yummy, imagine making a buck from your fruit tree in your own backyard. And the birds didn’t like the fruit either, even though I read somewhere that birds love the fruit. Not the ones in our yard.

It’s been twenty years of this unwanted exercise just to enjoy the beauty of the short-lived flowers, and some shade on our patio. One day, I said to Tom, “Can we remove the tree?”

He gaped at me, his handsome face frozen in horror for a moment. “Are you sure?”

Without going into all the details, first, we trimmed all the branches. Then we cut them back, then we cut it down.

For you tree lovers, please don’t hate us, we moaned during the whole process. But we’re glad we cut the tree down because we now have more time to enjoy our backyard and our backs are thankful we won’t be doing all that extra stooping anymore.

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