California pepper tree with red lantern at Shirley Bovshow home

The Tree That Led Me Home

by / 14 Comments / 1872 View / June 18, 2008


When I was a little girl, there was a huge California pepper tree in my front yard that provided me with hours of entertainment.

It was a multi purpose tree.

I climbed it, I peeled its bark, and I could "sneeze on demand" whenever I crushed the red peppercorns between my fingers and took a whiff of it.

I had a lot of fun with that tree.

The tree made me happy.


Tree Ignorance


Pepper tree in Shirley Bovshow's garden.


I didn't know the tree by its botanical name, (Schinus molle), or common name back then.

Who knew that trees had proper names?

Not me.

Trees were just "trees."


When we moved away from my childhood home, I missed my perch on that pepper tree!

High, above the ground, I would spend hours watching birds and butterlies go by, and daydreaming about my future, and making grand plans for my young life.


By the time I recognized a pepper tree again, I was an adult and too busy to pay attention to nature.


I met this special man at work named Larry who became my best friend.

Larry's personality was the opposite of mine; he was low key, soft spoken, and he seemed to live life in slow motion.

I, on the contrary, exuded high energy, was outspoken, and in constant motion.


Larry taught me to slow down and introduced me to the Great Outdoors: hiking, mountain biking, and camping.

Larry also reintroduced me to the pepper tree.


Larry and Shirley Bovshow at the ranch

Larry and Shirley Bovshow enjoying a sunny day together.


Little did I know, (or notice), there were beautiful mature pepper trees outside our office.

Larry pointed them out to me and mentioned he was allergic to them; they made him sneeze whenever we were together in the parking lot.

At first, I felt a bit confused.


How could I have not recognized my favorite childhood tree?

I rushed past this "green blur" every day, totally ignoring the familiar scent, peeling bark and weeping foliage of my beloved pepper tree!



Larry's allergy trouble didn't end at the office; there was also a giant pepper tree in his backyard!

When Larry became a single parent, he bought his childhood home from his parents and lived there with his two young daughters.

Coincidentally, Larry's parents planted a pepper tree in their backyard when Larry was four years old, which was the same age I was when I played with my tree!

Is there such a thing as, "bonding over a tree?"


There must be, because Larry and I married a couple of years later.


California pepper tree lit up at night by shirley bovshow

The Bovshow pepper tree at night.


When I saw Larry's backyard for the first time, my eyes fixed on the gnarled and weeping pepper tree.

It was a beautiful, nostalgic tree.

Its fragrance warmed my heart and the arched branches seemed to reach out to embrace me, like an old friend welcoming me back home.

I felt as though I was home again, as if I'd never left.


The pepper tree became a living thread that connected my childhood dreams to my future, leading me home to the man I love.



14 Comment

  1. Hi Patricia,

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m glad you enjoyed my story. I thought it would be interesting to share how some of these plants that I teach about have a relationship to life! This one was a good example.

    Drop by EdenMakers again!


  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful inimate story of your life. How perfectly you and your husband compliment each other. Love the magnificent look of the pepper tree…need to check how they will do in Florida. 😀 Take Care Shirley.

  3. Pepperberries are a great material for flower arrangements! I wonder how old those pepper trees are in Israel?

    Must be a beautiful site. Thanks for sharing Bernideen.


  4. Thank you Patty, that’s very sweet of you to say that.

    Although I usually focus on “how to” garden design posts, I enjoyed sharing this story from my heart!
    Please visit EdenMakers again.


  5. Shirley…..As always you weave magic into anything you do !!! I loved this story of your "pepper tree" and your life with Larry. You are an artist of nature and an amazing lady in all that you do. 

  6. For years I used pepperberries in my dried flower arrangements.  They came from California.  I saw them in Israel as they grow their and at the garden tomb where Jesus was buried and rose.

  7. En la “mouse house.” Tambien habia un arbol que se llama Jacaranda con flores moradas.
    Su nina

  8. No me acuerdo del arbol, tiene que resfrescarme la memoria.
    En que casa estaba?

  9. You look fantastic!! And the two of you make the most striking couple. I love this story. It does seem like it was meant to be. He must love that tree too cause else–who would keep something you are so allergic to. He put up with it for years in hopes he would lure another Pepper Tree lover. Looks like he got more than he bargained for;)

  10. Hi Lin,
    Thanks for the compliment. So you like trees too? I think that they go unappreciated for the most part. Most people can’t identify the trees in their yards. I’d like to help change that.

  11. Beautiful tree…handsome couple…great story! And I thought I was the only one with a ‘thing’ for trees!

  12. Good morning Nancy. Isn’t it interesting how plant life sometimes parallels ours? Those trees stand in the backdrop of our lives, sometimes noticed, other times not. “If trees could talk…”

    Hi Shala. Thanks for visiting and for your comment. I just returned from your blog and enjoyed your post on “dumpster diving” something I do myself! Welcome to the EdenMaker!

  13. Aww that was such a sweet story. I’m glad that the tree brought you back to your childhood, but even more importantly brought you your husband. So sweet!

  14. What a beautiful story. Larry looks like a great guy, and you two look very happy. I used to have a special tree when I was a kid, too — we called it the “umbrella tree” because of the wide canopy of leaves, but I believe it was a stunted, twisted and gnarled chestnut. No matter, the tree died about the same time my marriage did, which I always thought was somewhat appropriate, if somewhat tragic for the tree. 🙂

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