There used to be, in the little green space at the front of the house where my grandparents used to live many years ago, an oversized bougainvillea tree.

Apart from being eye catching with the beauty of its flowers and the wildness that it projected due to lack of trimming, the tree was a playground… a delight when you climbed it and sat at one of the tree branches, and not such a delight when its thorns left you a scar.

I don’t know who planted the bougainvillea; I don’t know how long it took it to get so big. What I know is that it was there, very alive, dancing with the wind.

A situation started to be noticed. In the living room, floor tiles started to rise in some places, a couple of them were even broken and had to be replaced. Who was to be blamed?, the bougainvillea, specifically, its roots. The same apparently possible two options were considered and talked about many times: leveled floors and no bougainvillea (a tree that had carried, wounded and watched grow two different generations), or, purplish flowers, vegetal personified memories, and the appearance of an underground growing volcano right below the most used room in the house.

The tree won, the purplish flowers with a yellow centered eye were seen for many more summers. Some measures were taken, some roots were cut, but some other roots still kept lifting the floors. Overall, the benefit was bigger than the damage.

This memory came to me trying to think of a better way to face a current situation in my life. An oversized tree has grown in my property and, same as the bougainvillea, I don’t know how it got here, it presented itself following irrational laws of nature; even if I had dreamed of it, it was unasked for, unthought-of. It’s amazing, weird, big, special, unique and beautiful, but the thing is… it has started lifting my floors, and the tiles are hurting.

According to my thoughts, I’m also faced with two possible options. The first option is linked to something I know without being able to explain how I know it. The tree will live forever if I let it. I’ll have to do some trimming as with any other tree, and some major root cutting. This tree has the potential to be an immortal giant bougainvillea.

The second option says that it might not be worth it to save the tree, because it has been with me for little time, and though it has brought some strong delightful memories, they are somewhat incomplete. Sun and water have helped it grow; it wasn’t all done on its own. But this same sun and water, so caring at times, can be suddenly gone, leaving the tree alone, to myself to take care of. I don’t understand their actions. I’m afraid sun and water come only to make the roots grow and result in broken floor tiles in my living room…


6 responses »

  1. Since my yard was so bare I got in the habit of buying little trees to fill it up. It’s interesting to watch them grow. I think I might have to draw the line though if the tree was raising up my floor, that would unsettle me, I think.

  2. just read the responses, but it doesn’t solve my problem. Cutting the roots, at the floor side seems to be a temporary measure and how long before the problem resurfaces again ?

    I thought cut the roots(going under the floor) – then make a concrete wall that side to prevent roots from causing future damage . Will this be a practical solution . As we don’t want to cut the Bougainvillaea tree – as it give us shade for our roof top flat. Otherwise its impossible to stay. there!!!

    • You are right, cutting the roots is possibly not a practical solution since the roots might come back to the same place they were before… but it’s a risk you have to take, a decision to make if you simply can’t take those purple flowers away from your sight. The definitive solution would be cutting the tree for good, but as you said, we want the bougainvillea tree there, for multiple reasons.
      The problem with building a wall is that, even if it will keep the floor tiles damage away, you will need half the world’s steel and concrete materials production to keep it away from structural failure…
      One can only hope that after the root cutting measure, the bougainvillea will be kind enough to direct its roots elsewhere, where no floor tiles can be hurt.
      Now, if we are talking of a real bougainvillea tree, a common, under ground level (as a foundation), and well designed concrete wall in the required area will do.

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