Comfortable and Furious

Trees: A Tribute to Mother Nature’s most glorious evolved creation.

This is a picture of me and my son Brian, standing in front of an ancient Tulip Tree at Greenbrier Pinacle in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This magnificent tree is one of a few that escaped logging before this area was turned into a National Park. The tree is over 500 years old.

A Rant About Trees: This rant is dedicated to Blair Glenn, Arborist and lover of trees. Check out his YouTube Channel. Blair is over 70 years old and owns a Tree Trimming business in Saratoga, California. He is still an active climber and trimmer.

I love trees. I think that trees are some of the most awesome examples of Mother Nature’s evolutionary creation. Without trees, which supply 28% of the Earth’s oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, humans would be in a lot of trouble. I realize that the most prolific producer is the kelp in the ocean, but most of that is consumed and utilized by marine life.

Just think about trees for a moment. They are bad-ass. Trees are stationary. Trees are silent. Trees cannot pick up and run away from insects, fungus, ravenous elephants or the meteorological terror of Mother Nature’s hurricanes, tornadoes, hail and derechos. Just like in the song from Elephant’s Memory, Old Man Willow the trees are stuck in place. Of course, the most devastating threat to trees are the humans who harvest them. Fortunately, trees are a renewable resource, but that is another story.

Again, I love trees. I lived in Memphis for 56 years. The Tulip tree (aka tulip poplar, which is a total misnomer) is the Tennessee state tree. I could write a book on the tulip tree, the Bradford Pear and street tree choices. Anyway, the tulip tree thrives in places like The Great Smoky Mts. National Park. In the park, at 3,000-5,000 ft., there is plenty of rainfall, it is cool for the South, and the climate is similar to that of southern Canada. Where the tulip tree does not thrive is in hot climates or in the middle of cities.

Since it was the State tree, in Memphis, people planted it everywhere. The most egregious planting was at Overton Square, right in the sidewalks with those ridiculous cast iron concentric “chokers” around them. Mid-town Memphis, concrete and asphalt jungle, a heat island and not exactly the ideal environment for a tulip tree. They did not consult me…or you…and planted dozens of these trees at Overton Square, at the Raleigh Springs Mall, and as you might imagine, every tree perished.

The Bradford Pear is another tree “holocaust” in Memphis. Homeowners and developers planted them EVERYWHERE, and the tree was hailed as the perfect street and home landscape tree. I still have the tree book that was put out by Ortho in the mid-70’s, praising the tree. Well, you know what happened. The Bradford Pear turned out to be horribly flawed, NOT sterile as claimed, and with weak crotch wood that was no match for the tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that routinely swept through the Mid-South. Oh, but the beautiful white flowers! Yes, but the flowers were accompanied by the stench of rotted fish.

Worse still, the tree was not sterile, and birds ate the fruits and deposited the seed where they mutated into this Frankenstein of an invasive species that suckers EVERYWHERE, with 6-inch crucifixion-type thorns that will puncture the tires of even a John Deere tractor. Now, you can barely find one of these original “perfect trees” as they have all been blown down by mother nature, or self-destructed by their own weak wood. Their legacy will have to be dealt with as being as unwanted as the dreaded Kudzu.

The Bradford Pear was created by humans. More often than not, Mother Nature and trees know what is best for them; also, tulip trees would never choose to be planted as street trees, nor would the Callery Bradford Pear ever be created by a committee of Ents. This is my rant about trees. You Blair, more than anyone else, know the havoc that is reeked on trees by butchers who top them relentlessly or plant redwood, tulip trees or other giants like the evergreen ash in urban settings. It doesn’t make sense, especially in hindsight.

Trees are awesome, and should be our very best friends. Sure, the copious amounts of green oak pollen in the Spring, and the raking of leaves in the Fall can be annoying, but look at what they do and don’t do for us! Trees don’t talk back or nag, or have a $400 a month Dooney & Bourke purse or antique jewelry habit. They will never leaf <sic> you for another, and protect you from the hot rays of the sun and the wind. Respect them. Love them, and always hire a trained and educated arborist to work on your valuable trees. Big trees are irreplaceable when considering the lifetime of a human, and should be treated with special respect.






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