The trouble started three years into our relationship. It was a late spring day, his flowering had passed and I was out pruning him, making him into his lovely treeness, when 'ffffttt' he dropped one half of his trunk, turned to me and said, 'Madame, if you do not mind, I h'am a shrub not a tree. Learn how to garden before you bring your blunt shears near me again.' (Imagine my shock at learning I had a french flowering almond!) Trying to bridge a cultural divide, I responded, 'Non, non monsieur, vous etes un arbre!' ('no Sir, you are a tree!')
He sneered, 'Your h'accent is terrible, speak h'english', in a tone normally heard from French waiters. But before I could contemplate the karmic cycle, I finished up the pruning and headed inside to Google.
The following year, determined to prove he was a shrub, he sprouted new shoots from his base. My Google search had been unsatisfactory, some say tomato...I mean shrub, and some say tree. So I decided to let him try on his inner shrub. He grew wildly as a shrub for several years. He reveled in his shrubbiness, encroaching on our path, blocking out light to other plants, and in one particularly nasty drunken brawl, nearly strangling his girlfriend, Lilac.
This year, however it became clear the years of partying it up as a shrub had caught up with him. His spring flowers were mangy, his leaves dull and many of his branches were bare. He was rapidly becoming the Pete Doherty of my garden. The peonies for one, would have nothing to do with him, and Lilac had started seeing the Burning Bush, Matthew a few years back.
I equipped myself with the appropriate tools for the intervention. As luck would have it, the weeds provided enough of a blind for me to take him by surprise. He had no chance to prepare, and humming la Marseillaise I was able to get to work immediately. 'You sir, are clearly not fit to be a shrub, you need to grow up and realize you are a tree.' Snap! Off go the sickliest of the shoots.
'Madame, you are right, I am a tree, please 'elp me back to my treeish glory!', he pleaded. I took aim at the next shoot, glad that he was finally coming to his senses. Not one to totally concede, he cried, 'sacre bleu woman, can you not learn to sharpen those shears?' Realizing that I had to put an end to the attitude once and for all, I pulled out my secret weapon, the chainsaw. Leaning in to him, I quietly explained that I had a sharp chain on it, and would be more than willing to use it if he preferred. 'Non, non, zat is fine. I sink you would prefer me to be leaning back, fur-zer away from ze path, non?', was his oh, so cooperative reply.
An hour or so of heavy pruning later, I believe he has finally learned his lesson, and we are now both anxiously awaiting a spectacular show from him next spring.