Monday, February 9, 2009

A detective story...

I went out to the farm (my veggie garden) a couple of days ago and noticed that something seemed amiss. For one thing, the wheelbarrow was lying face down on top of the cold frame lid. Hmmm. Puzzling.

Wind? I'd been out of town so maybe Walu had come out here in a windstorm, found the lid flapping around and put the barrow on top to hold it down. I dismissed this idea almost as soon as I thought of it--not because we don't have winds strong enough to do that (we do), but because it is simply unimaginable that W would a) go outside in a windstorm for recreation, b) notice the cold frame lid flapping around, and c) think to put a wheelbarrow on top of it.

I love Walu, but he's a rather bookish man, if you get my drift.

Then I noticed that the galvanized trash was in the wrong place. In fact, it was on the opposite end of the farm, and it was standing upright, so I knew for a fact it couldn't have been wind that moved it.

And there were pecans on the ground--everywhere. And little branches. It was almost as if someone had taken a good shake to the tree and...

Aha! I remembered a little notice I'd gotten on my door the week before, announcing that the city was going to prune my pecan trees in the alley. Fair enough, since they need to do this to protect the electric lines that run there, but I've seen what they do to trees they "prune." It's less a pruning than a butchering.

I wasn't too concerned, though, since I'd been planning to have someone come out and prune those trees anyway. I need more light in the veggie garden. I just figured my guy could clean up the city butchering when it was done.

Even so, I raised my eyes tentatively to the big pecan...

And couldn't really see much that was different. Maybe a nip and tuck, here and there...

So I look over at the smaller one at the other end of the yard:

Okay, that's not so bad, really. It even looks like an elegant cut, right at the junction. It's one I might make myself, in fact.

But then I saw my neighbor's trees:


So why would the city tree butchers prune mine so delicately and then turn around and do their usual whack job at the next house? And why would they take pains to move things like the wheelbarrow and trash can out of the way of danger from falling branches? The only thing I can figure is that when they climbed over into my yard, they saw that a gardener lived there. And it is equally clear that gardeners do not live next door.

It would be tempting to think that they did it out of respect for a gardener, but I'm guessing that they just figured I'd be more likely to complain about brutalizing my trees than a non-gardener. And normally, they might be right, but for the fact I'd planned to tidy up their usual shoddy work anyway.

And here's a little more irony: You remember the respectful way they neatly place the wheelbarrow on top of the cold frame lid? They broke the lid when they did it.

Good thing I'm handy and was able to fix it.


  1. I have to agree with you. They don't care who lives there but if you stand over them they will take care. That's a bummer on the coldframe lid. Are you going to complain?:)

  2. Naw, I fixed already. They meant well...

  3. Years ago, we lived in an old victorian home and had 2 of the oldest oak trees in town. They trimming crew came by one day while we were at work and just ruined one of the trees! I was livid and complained like crazy, but never even got an apology. The tree looked horrible during winter, but was better when the leaves came out and covered much of the butchery.

  4. Maybe a little pruning course in needed for those workers.

    But I have to say, they did not do a great job, but I have seen worse.


  5. Funny. They really did, from the sounds of it, try to avoid making the gardener mad. They probably know from lots of experience that we are the ones that will let em have it! I know a woman (plant pathologist) that had tons of trees die on her land due to the herbicide the electric co used on the road side brush. She suied!

  6. Perhaps they had just had a restful coffee break and their destructive mania had subsided by the time they got to you (lol)

  7. Such an interesting mystery. So weird that they would make the effort for one set of trees and then give up and butcher the rest. These people have chosen to work with trees, right? Don't they have any respect? Argh! Infuriating. Sorry your cold frame got broken. Plus, what the )(*&$ were they doing in your backyard, isn't that trespassing? Don't get me started on city tree pruners...

  8. I believe you're right -- I do think they take more care where it is obvious a gardener lives. And perhaps it isn't so much that they respect the fact that you garden, as it is that you're most likely to complain. :) Either way, I'm glad YOUR tree, at least, had a gentle pruning.

  9. What I don't understand is if they know how to do it correctly (or somewhat correctly) why do they butcher so many trees? Is it really that much more work to do it right?

  10. Eek, this reminds me that the city was coming out to prune trees at my old house today. And I forgot to go over there and stand guard! Must go first thing tomorrow to see the damage.

  11. Nola--I am so sorry to hear about those poor oaks. A bad pruning job really makes me mad.

    MBD--I agree, I have seen much, much worse.

    FG1--good for her! I guess I'd feel like suing too, if that had happened to me.

    EG--maybe they need more breaks then...

    Karen--good question about the backyard. I wondered about that myself. As for caring about trees, I don't think that the people who do this sort of "pruning" for a living really care. I think they're just trying to get it done as fast as possible.

    Nancy--yes, I'm glad my tree was spared, but I feel sorry for the others.

    Michelle--I think it is all about expediency, not about doing it correctly.

    Pam--Oh dear, I hope yours were spared.

  12. This is like a short story! I wonder if they really did do it to respect the garden - the pictures seem to say so.

  13. Susan,

    It does make you wonder! Has someone put a sign up that says "beware assertive gardener resides here." Our city send 'arborists' out to survey the trees then the butchers come by! I had my arborist trim the trees before they got here, the city had to approve the trimming, but they passed my yard without destroying the canopy!

  14. I'm fascinated, if puzzled by the way the workers did the pruning. It's a delightful story, but makes me glad I live in the country and don't have to deal with such things.

  15. Um, the guy who cut your tree took a cigarette break and someone else did the nextdoor neighbours?


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