On a warm and sunny June day, a north Brainerd neighborhood was so quiet the greatest rumbling came from giant bumblebees.
The bees, giant bodies incongruously supported by tiny wings, were slowly circling pink/purple blossoms in an expansive back yard.
Edward Ackerson was out appreciating the blue noonday sky and what he said were the most lush blossoms on his sweet pea tree. Ackerson planted the sweet pea tree 10 to 15 years ago. He has lived in north Brainerd for about 52 years.
At 88, he still retains an interest in gardening and yard work. Although trips to his ranch in Montana are growing further in between.
He said the amazing thing about the sweet pea tree is how many offshoots the tree has created. On the edge of his property he has a tree that typically grows in Hawaii. And along the back yard a giant white pine stands with its trademark soft-looking needles. Red pines also tower along the border where the yards meet.
The sweet pea tree sprouted several smaller trees around it. (Dispatch Photos by Nels Norquist)
Ackerson said the white pine was picked out when it was quite young from land near Emily and transported to its city location. It obviously thrives there. Near the sweet pea tree, Ackerson has a small grouping of peonies. The oldest ones are now white with just a hint of pink at their center to indicate their color when they were younger. Columbine flowers grow among the sweet pea shoots.
The American Heritage Dictionary lists several entries for sweet pea, including an annual climbing herb native to Italy that is cultivated for its variously colored, fragrant flowers and a name given to the seed of several leguminous plans, especially in the southern United States. Sweet pea also was equated to something that was pleasing to smell or even pleasing to the ear as soft or melodious. It can be a term of endearment.
At Landsburg Landscape Nursery near Brainerd, a search did not find a specific tree with the name sweet pea. However, a locust tree has flowers that match the description and may have reminded people of the sweet pea, thus attracting the name. Locust trees also send out suckers, creating new tree growth in the same fashion and include sharp thorns.
Regardless of its true name, it is a blossom-heavy tree that provides enjoyment for its owner and nectar for the gentle, slowly lumbering bumblebees.
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