Home Is Where Your Trees Are

Home Is Where Your Trees Are. Part 2

The most imposing tree ever imagined was Yggdrasil, the mystic great ash of Norse mythology. It symbolized all existence. Yggdrasil's crown pervaded heaven, with an eagle on the topmost bough. Its trunk supported earth, on which its sheltering branches shed honeydew. Its roots penetrated the nether realms of the giants, the gods, and of the dragon Nidhug, whose offspring gnawed them incessantly. It is a bit weird to realize that some sequoias and redwoods in their prime today were mature monarchs a millennium and more ago when Yggdrasil and other dream-trees first sprouted in the minds of men. Yggdrasils, sequoias, and sorcerous trees have place in the daily lives of few people nowadays. But though fashions change, trees retain their hold on men's hearts and imaginations. And with trees as with other treasures, possession is nine-tenths of enjoyment's law. One of the happiest facts about trees, great and small, is that they are a myriad times more plentiful than most other forms of wealth, and much more public. For every feature tree that the richest of men may own in his walled estate, there are at large in public parks and unfenced forests countless trees equally magnificent, to be seen and enjoyed by all men. Better still, no man with any fair part of one acre is so poor or so unlucky that he can't grow as glorious a tree, of almost any species he chooses, as ever grew in Eden.

The poet Joyce Kilmer averred that "only God can make a tree." But the god of trees is benevolent. He approves the burgeoning of die ailanthus, "Tree of Heaven," even in Brooklyn and other asphalt jungles. In the suburbs, in exurbia, at a new homesite carved into the wildwood or out of barren countryside, the dendrological deity is open-handed to any degree a patient man may ask. And this benevolence extends not only to new trees started from saplings. It applies also to mature trees whose growing needs were neglected by early owners but which are not too far deteriorated for revival. Giving older trees a new lease on life can be even more satisfying than planting and cultivating youngsters. The latter process is uneventfully natural. The former often borders on the miraculous.

Over the past fifteen years this writer has watched, as a practicing tree lover and consultant, a special aspect of the U.S. population explosion. More and more people are being forced out of their cities and strewn among the suburbs or beyond - into rural villages, old farmsteads, or brave new diggings miles from nowhere. Many of these human transplants become, for the first time in their lives, the owners of trees. Land, grass, shrubbery - these the newcomers can understand and evaluate. Trees of their own are something else-possessions entirely new in kind and caliber.

Most new householders value the trees that came with their real estate. How could they fail to when they see so many other sites being stripped of every stick and stump? But they haven't the foggiest notion which of their species are which, or in what condition, or whether anything should be done to improve and preserve them. Offered here is a non-technical handbook for tree owners, new and otherwise, setting forth the rudiments of tree physiology, growth, care, culture, and values.

The chapters are so arranged and developed as to benefit - it is hoped - all degrees of experience. A certain number of people think they know all they need to know about their trees and what can and should be done for them. For such this book is not designed. Many more people regard their trees, like their children, as fond objects of continuing interest and concern, whose needs change with the seasons, the passing years, the vicissitudes of nature. For these this website is designed to: