Archives for posts with tag: seedling

Since it’s first transformation from seed to seedling the giant redwood on my windowsill has changed very little in recent months.  In the meantime, the strange caterpillars I found last August and put in a tin have just emerged from their cocoons as moths – earlier than expected.  (The elephant hawk moth is particularly stunning.)  And within 2 weeks of planting, my daughter’s sunflower seed already towers over the giant redwood.

Elephant hawk moth and lime hawk moth

Giant Redwood and Sunflower SeedlingsSometimes growth is sudden – a step change.  Sometimes it takes a long time – a strengthening of what is already there.  Often it happens in the dark, underground, when nothing seems to be happening at all.

In our own times of darkness or waiting, the world around us reveals the promise of hope and new life.  Every endless winter is followed by another spring.  Even destructive forest fires burn out eventually and life bursts forth stronger than ever.  What was once concealed out of sight in seed or cocoon, reaches for the open air in miraculous splendour when the time is right (and the shell that once protected it is discarded – dead – so the new life can be set free).

Moth Pupa Cocoons

There is a time for everything and everything has it’s time.  Some grow slow, some fast, but all have their own purpose and beauty, and a comparison between the redwood and the sunflower at this stage will not hold up in 100 years!

As the natural world shows, times of darkness and waiting are necessary to growth, and even death and pain release new life.

Kahlil Gibran said it so well:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses
your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its
heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder at the
daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem
less wondrous than your joy;

And you would accept the seasons of your heart,
even as you have always accepted the seasons that
pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity through the
winters of your grief.


The 2-inch high seedling in a plastic pot on my window sill is a Sequoiadendron Giganteum or Giant Redwood.

Lately I have taken great comfort from meditating on this not-yet-tree.

I grew it from a seed – the only successful seedling out of 4 seeds planted.  The dead, empty shell of the seed from which it sprang still clings to one of it’s tiny branches.  It needs to let go of what it once was.

Despite it’s present fragility it IS a ‘Giant Redwood’.  It’s DNA attests to it being one of the most magnificent trees in the world.

But while it’s identity is a fact, it’s destiny can’t be taken for granted.  It needs time, persistence and the right conditions to fulfil it’s potential.  If planted out in the wild right now, it could be choked by weeds or trampled.  Yet if cared for properly at this critical early stage, it will outgrow any weed.

There is risk – there always is in life.  But knowing it’s identity is essential to me knowing best how to care for it, and one day it will thrive beyond my care and stand far taller and stronger than it’s present appearance could ever suggest.

Tree big and small