Three children, from days gone
mouths stretched wide in glee
Scattered, posing for the camera on the ancient cypress
Rugged and old, a bold and brave being
Solid and strong in form
Gnarled trunk stands tall
Branches stretched out in disarray
A canopy of thirsty leaves in the basking sun
A photo of a memory
A tree where family happiness is found

FRANCESCA BAKER | Cypress | Malta

The island of Malta can be quite a barren place. With temperatures regularly topping 35 degrees and 300 days of sun each year, parched fields, wilting flowers and thirsty trees are not uncommon to see.

Buskett Gardens are slightly different. Located between the towns of Dingli and Siggiewi it is one of Malta’s few woodlands located and one of the country’s greenest areas. The trees were planted by the Knights of Malta for hunting purposes, back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Apparently it has been a garden for thousands of years though, and home to orgies in the post Roman period! The name Buskett is derived from the Italian ‘boschetto’, meaning forest.

The gardens are home to orange trees, cactus, Mediterranean pines and cypress trees, holm oak, aleppo pine, white poplar, great reed, bushes, shrubs and flowers, as well as vineyards, olive and lemon groves.

My Nannu (my mother’s father, my grandad) was from Malta, and we used to go on holiday to Malta every year. We have a photo of me, my brother Michael, and my sister Antonia sitting, nestled in the branches of a beautiful tree at the entrance of the gardens. I think we’re around 15, 12, and 4, and we were out for a walk and a picnic. We are all smiling, happy to be there.

The cypress tree is twisted and gnarly. Wiggly branches stretch far out. Light shines through the leaves, dappled on our faces.

I’m sure this tree has seen some things. Some hunting, some festivals, some fights, some laughter. It has offered shade from the harsh summer sun, and greenery in verdant springs.

So I chose this tree due to happy memories. Memories that I am reminded of every time I see that photograph on the window ledge.