It is time to stop the despicable, destructive practice of tree topping
Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 9:23 pm
By: By JIMMY WILLIAMS Special to The Messenger
A lot of things I don’t understand.
Why, with the technology they have today, are there so few sound systems in public places that work? To wit: “And now, ladies and gnlmrln, the 2009 gradrinng craa of Hrr Crrn Hi ... bzzzzzzzz.
Why, with the technology they have today, does it take longer to check out of a store than when Douglas Anderson or John B. Arnett did it on an old National cash register? To wit: “Price check on register three.” Better pack a lunch.
And why, oh for Heaven’s sake why, do seemingly intelligent people pay enormous money and go to all kinds of trouble to have perfectly good trees “topped?”
I know, you’ve heard it from here before, but I am going to keep on ranting about it until they put the tubes in my nose or put me in the box. Somebody, after all, has to keep up the mantra.
These columns, for 41 years plus, have been going without a verbatim repeat. That is not to say certain subjects haven’t been covered more than once. Tree topping has been cursed and condemned from this corner for almost a quarter of a century that your present scribe has been at the helm.
There are times — a few — that trees must be pruned. Perhaps to cut out old and unproductive wood or to open the canopy so that more light and air can penetrate. There are NO times, save perhaps when branches are a hazard to power lines, when tree topping is justified.
Shade trees were meant to grow free, just as their Creator intended. If he had decided they all should look like the dismal Bradford pear and grow in a congested ball, He would have designed them that way. (Incidentally, that infamous Bradford pear is the product of man’s dallying with an oriental wild pear that is infinitely better than its progeny.)
When trees are topped, the resulting stubs sit around a year or so and either die or erupt with a mass of substandard twigs and inferior branches that will never approach the beauty and strength of the original branches. Perfectly good and strong oaks are reduced to pitiful shells of their former selves after being topped.
This is easily observed on any residential street. Just drive down one and look for the thickets of secondary wood that have grown from old cuts on what should have become sky-scraping and graceful limbs. There will usually be a number of the scraggly little branches that will have died away, and walking under such a tree is an adventure in itself with the ever-present danger of having your head knocked in.
A topped tree will never again in its life attain the beauty of one that has never been touched. Just compare an old post oak in the middle of a pasture, with arms outstretched and branches ultimately ending in that gnarly arrangement that these oaks are famous for, with a similar tree that has been taken, kicking and screaming, before the guillotine. There is no comparison.
Perhaps in my years of these tantrums concerning the evil practice of tree topping I have influenced two or three people to change their minds and forego the urge to have their trees mutilated. If so, maybe each of those people had, say, three trees destined to be topped. Then I have saved six to nine trees from the butchers. I guess it has been worth it.
Editor’s note: Jimmy Williams is production superintendent at The Paris Post-Intelligencer, where he also writes this column.
Published in The Messenger 1.13.09
Jimmy Williams, The Garden Path