Recovery is a word fraught with meaning for gardeners and the infirm. How many times do I have to kill a certain type of plant to figure out its quirks and idiosyncrasies? I have slain my share. If I get to the Pearly Gates, I expect them all to be lined up there waving broken limbs saying, “she killed me.” 

I have a Meyer lemon that is on its third near-death experience. Mr. Lemon is apparently planted too close to the driveway at my office. Someone backing out of a parking space ran him over and left him for dead. He recovered!  The shape was not great, but he had 12 beautiful lemons last year . . . until someone with a weed eater took off a couple on the bottom because they were too close to the ground.  

Things were going well this fall, and Mr. L was sporting lots of new leaves and limbs, looking good, and then we got an early freeze. Oops, I didn’t realize it was going to be so cold and forgot to cover him up. I felt so guilty when a third of the leaves turned yellow and fell off. Last month he again made a remarkable comeback: new growth was springing from the tips of all his branches, and small fragrant pinkish-white blooms were coming on, too. When I heard it was going to freeze over the weekend, I tried shielding him with a double layer of sheet and shade cloth tied with a stout rope to keep them from blowing off in the gale force wind that was expected. To no avail. After the storm, when I took the layers of fabric off, I was disheartened to see all the blooms and new growth were shriveled and black.  

In the last few weeks, another half of the leaves have dropped off, and I was waiting to see which limbs were going to live and which to prune out. Pruning is a good way to stimulate new growth, but I didn’t want to be too hasty with my loppers in case Mr. L was just taking his time in putting back on leaves. This week a new crop of leaves emerged.  

Today during lunch break, I took off the dead branches and stems and some that were just growing in the wrong direction. Scratched and bleeding from the thorns in the process (Mr. L got his revenge), I am happy with the overall shape. I don’t suppose I will get any fruit this year, but I am hopeful for the renewal pruning and regrowth of the tree. His potential is there. Spring is a time of cleaning up the garden and our houses, cutting dead branches and clearing out the cobwebs. I welcome rebirth and recovery.