I have spent most of my life by a sweetgum tree. Growing up, I had a rope swing on the sweetgum outside my bedroom window. My Uncle George, who lived with us at the time, cut notches in a wooden plank and made a perfect seat for the swing. Later, my rabbits — Pearl and Mr. Bojangles — lived in a screened hutch in the sweetgum’s dense shade.
Our first house, a townhouse in the city, had a huge sweetgum at the end of the block. One of our son’s favorite activities in the fall was filling his red wagon with those sticky seed balls the tree produces. He called them bunky-bunks, so the sweetgum became the bunky-bunk tree.
Twenty+ years ago we moved to our current house. We loved all of the huge old trees in the yard and were especially happy to see that one of them was a bunky-bunk. It was meant to be!
The leaves really do need to be raked again, but I like to leave the “stars” on the ground as long as they’re still looking pretty. The sweetgum’s leaves turn a multitude of colors. Green mixed with gold and bright yellow and orange and red and purple and many different varieties of speckles.