Native to South America and Brazil, the name jacaranda comes from a South American language Guarani and means ‘fragrant’.
Jacarandas are the loveliest of trees. Native to Central America and Brazil they flower across south Sydney in late spring. Sister Irene Haxton who grew jacaranda seedlings in jam tins at her private maternity hospital in Cronulla, where I was born, gave one to every mother as she left the hospital with her new baby.
Mrs Haxton would take her two boys to Penrith, where jacaranda trees grew and the boys would climb the trees and collect the pods.
My mother told me that when my father came to pick us up from the hospital, Mrs Haxton carried me, a new baby, to the car followed by a nurse carrying my mother’s bag in one hand and the jacaranda sapling in the other.
I never thought to ask my mother where she planted my jacaranda. Perhaps it was in the backyard of our modest Cronulla house, long since demolished of which I have no memory. And, I imagine Sister Haxton’s maternity hospital is no more.
Whenever I see jacaranda trees in full bloom, anywhere in Sydney or where I once lived, I’m suddenly nostalgic. I dreamed, after thinking about my birth tree, that one grew outside my bedroom window and rained purple on the leafy garden in late spring. It had a slender trunk, delicate leaves, and flower-clusters of violet-blue that bloomed amongst the stars on moonlit nights.
It is the first day of 2022, the perfect time, to think of birth and rebirth.
All the very best for the year to come.