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February 16, 2015 / philosophermouseofthehedge

First cut is the deepest


Bold or distraught?

Motivated by cold steel rage or heat-of-the-moment despair?

Will he be forced to wear a Scarlet Letter? “K” for killer?

Three men in vintage clothing. (1911."A Good Turn". lobby card stil/.Lubin Manuf.Co/

“There he is. Don’t get too close. Why did he do it? What possessed him to get out the axe?”(1911.Lubin Manuf.Co/

People here are almost obsessive about tree trimming due to hurricanes. Branches torn from trees by hurricane force winds can easily pierce walls like a spear.

Homeowners new to the area grasp the concept quickly, but often it take a while for skills to catch up. Like a kid whose mom gives a bad haircut, a tree can be devastated by a bad trim, too.

Is this one too far gone for survival? Does it have enough heart left to even try?

Shoulder high oak tree stump. ALl righte reserved. Copyrighte. No permissions granted

Bravely pretending it’s OK. Tree must be wonder whatever it could have possibly done to deserve this.”Nothing to see here. Carry on. Take the dog with you, please.”.©

Either this guy listened to some drunk’s advice on tree trimming, his neighbors hate him and offered destructive instructions, or he’s livid at the Home Owner’s Association for sending him a letter asking that the low hanging tree limbs over the sidewalk and across the street be trimmed.

The HOA does that: send notes if trucks or walkers are dodging too much.

He could be into that steam-coming-out-of-the-ears condition of “You don’t like my tree’s branches? You want tree trimming? OK, I’ll show you tree trimming.”

That happens, too.

That’s either going to be the ugliest non-shading oak tree around or he’s about to get another HOA note saying:

“We noticed your tree died. Please install another oak of similar size so there will be a uniform shady tree canopy along all the streets here. And get written permission from us before you do so. And do it with in this time period…or there will be fines. Oh, p.s. you’ll be getting a bill for this notification we had to send you.”

two miners/ men in vintage western dress.(1921.Lobby card.Playgoers Pictures,Inc./ Unknown illustrator for Playgoers Pict./Beinecke lib..Yale/

“Did you see it? Git the posse. A tree murder can’t be ignored. What’s next? Bush whacking?” (1921.Playgoers Pict/Yale/

Maybe he’ll stare them down. Or learn how to spin it.

  • Get an expert to say it was necessary. (Diseased or to encourage proper growth – of the tree, not homeowner. Although wild eyes and a bit of mumbling drool might back inquiring minds off….)
  • Nail on some big brass street address numbers so people can find his house. (Simply saying “Look for the six-foot tree stump out front” might not be enough for some people. After all, St. Patrick’s Day is coming.)
  • Plead a traffic assist. A lantern perched on top could be helpful in heavy fog. It is a corner lot with a stop sign and a school bus stop. (Who could question such neighborly benevolence?)
  • Maintain artistic license. (Outdoor sculpture always increases neighborhood value.)
  • Claim religious freedom. (“If thy limb offends thee, cut it off.” I think that’s in there somewhere.)
  • Much easier to decorate with Christmas lights now. Certainly can reach the top now. (And imagination runs wild with potential for all the other holiday wrappings! Drape with a sheet and instant ghost and that’s just the beginning. We can talk turkey later.)
  • It’s environmentally friendly. (Safer perch for hawks and squirrels.)

Some people can’t leaf things alone.

If he’s smart, the homeowner is frantically working to hide the evidence. Chopping, digging, hacking, backfilling, and finishing off with a fluffy green filling of sod. (“Tree by the curb? What tree by the curb?”)

Oak trees lining a street. All rights reserved. Copy righted. NO permissions granted

A tree in every yard – all the way down the street. Before you snort at tree mandates, shade makes a real difference in the summer’s heat here.©

Sticking with a post here.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Thought you might like an update on the Ghiardi Compton Oak that was moved into a new park. Here’s a pix.

If you are confused or a new reader, click here for a previous post (with links to other posts with pictures) about a giant oak that danced 1500 feet to a new home after a huge community outcry when it was to be cut down so a road could be widened.) Video of giant tree’s move here.

Ghirardi Compton Oak. Feb, 2015.All rights reserved. No permissions granted. copyrighted.

And if the neighborhood oaks make it 1o0 years or so, they might look like one. There are many neighborhoods inside the city of Houston that have oaks this size lining the streets. Fabulous places. Galveston also had ancient tree-lined streets before Hurricane Ike. Despite the best efforts by companies who donated time, experts, and trucks of water to flush the ground around the beloved trees of storm surge salt water, most died. Many have been turned into sculptures in place. Here, The Ghiardi Compton Oak is has shed last years’ leaves and putting on new ones. It’s looking a little rough to me. This spring should be a good measure of what it feels like doing. ©






  1. Kate Crimmins / Feb 16 2015 1:24 pm

    Love this one! I always say you should need a license to prune! Our neighborhood is lined with maple street trees (the cheapest the contractor could find) and many are dying. Several neighbors have chopped their trees down so now the street is only sporadically tree lined. Not as nice and as you say, walking in the summer is so much more pleasant with street trees. Our neighbor across the street has been trying to get the township to do something, anything about it but no one seems interested. Neighbors appear to prefer the parched front yard look to replacing the trees. We have 3 in our yard along the curb and they are fabulous. Not sure why they are dying for some.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 16 2015 2:34 pm

      It’s so hot here we need all the trees we can get. All the older now desirable neighborhoods – even the big medical center downtown have mature oak trees. It’s one of the things newcomers notice about the area – and one reason people get so angry if anything threatens the big trees. Oaks manage storms much better than pines and many others…and the big sprawling ones are nice enough to hold leaves until spring and dump the old leaves quickly within a day or two as the new ones come out. Pine needle raking is not a favorite activity of mine.
      Although mowing yards is easier with no trees ( which is what we suspect this newcomer guy is thinking), gotta love trees! Thanks for cutting up a comment to leave

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Littlesundog / Feb 16 2015 2:26 pm

    I cringed when I saw the photo of that hacked up tree. That is done around here too on a large scale… makes me think of ignorant tree trimmers who know little about how to prune trees. People (homeowners) are ignorant too about maintaining and pruning early on when it should be done in order to prevent major limb cutting later. I grew up with parents who were mindful about keeping limbs trimmed, that were likely to hang over the house. They keept shrubs trimmed low to prevent blind corners (we had “natural” fence around the yard). For me it is a common sense issue, but I do not think people think along those lines anymore. Whether this tree was hacked up out of stupidity, revenge, or trust put into a very ignorant or inept tree trimmer (which is expensive!), the tree was the loser. It was just a youngster too… just beginning to provide lovely shade and put down good roots. Life was literally ripped from its limbs. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 16 2015 2:49 pm

      HAven’t walked back over that way recently to follow what’s going on there. We suspect the new to the area homeowners were upset about the lawn and decided it was brown due to lack of sun from the 3 oaks shading his little yard. Dude, all the yards are brown right now – the grass here always goes dormant and turns brown this time of year. Smart pruning of tree canopy lets in plenty of sun for St Augustine grass…and with that western facing yard, in August you may be unhappy the grass is baked, roasted, and dying….with gumbo, you can’t put on enough water to keep the soil from being baked like pottery. Shade. Only hope.
      Thanks for branching out and leaving a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ally Bean / Feb 16 2015 2:53 pm

    I live in an area with the opposite problem as yours. We have too many trees, native growth and new plantings. The mix, while lovely, means that older, waning trees need to be brought down so that they don’t fall on houses or roads. Our HOA is all about us, the individual homeowners, paying for the removal of any potentially offensive trees, so we get the go ahead carte blanche. And we can add whatever we want wherever we want as replacements. Everywhere is different, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 16 2015 3:50 pm

      Forested areas around homes do have to be managed – otherwise dead/diseased trees/limbs end up falling on power lines, houses, cars, even people walking. People used to use commonsense and voluntarily trim trees. Guess so many are too busy now to pay attention. Here on the coastal prairie, there’s brush and scrub trees mixed in a thicket landscape of old trees. Developers are so shortsighted to just bulldoze it all before building. Faster and cheaper, but those little replacement trees take a long time to grow – and it would be nice if they planted the best species for the area instead of the cheapest (and non-native) ones they can find. The HOA here is all about issuing orders – at Homeowners’ expense, so it’s been important for everyone to vote and keep sensible people on the board. Treed property sound lovely – except maybe in fall with all the raking…been there. Palms may need trimming, but they don’t shed thousands of little leaves! Thanks for raking up a comment to leaf!


  4. cecilia / Feb 16 2015 3:49 pm

    Wait! There really are rules about the trees? Pruning I get though. This kind of pruning is not too good. Tell me? (I am a tree worrier.) Is the tree showing any signs of life?


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 16 2015 4:04 pm

      Actually there aren’t real rules. Everyone does want the trees trimmed up so you can walk down the sidewalk without ducking, to let visitors parking cars on the curb to get in and out without getting wacked in the head, and for USP/FeEx/Moving trucks/garbage trucks to be able to drive down the street without ripping off branches (although most of the truck drivers are nice enough to go down the center of the street to dodge trees if necessary). The old oaks will develop long draping limbs that will hang all the way to the ground if allowed (at one farm we created a fort/clubhouse almost totally screened by branches). With trees this size, it’s wise to gradually trim lower branches and redirect growth up to desired branches up higher…they will droop – just their nature. These are such graceful trees if properly managed.
      I haven’t had the heart to head back down that street to see the results. I think he’s trying to take it down completely which he will regret as that yard get all the west afternoon baking summer sun. Being new maybe he thinks his yard is brown from lack of sun with the 3 oaks in the small yard. All the yards are brown as the grass goes dormant this time of year. Or maybe he’s just tired of mowing around the tree. It will depend how picky the HOA is feeling – they may insist he replace it as those trees are actually on “community property” and maybe be actually listed in the deed restrictions you have to sign and agree to when purchasing a house. We’ll see.
      Last year a similar oak was struck by lightning. They trimmed the dead top off about 8 feet up. Talk about weird. But it is putting out branches and leaves again.
      Thanks for chatting under the trees here for a bit. (No problem, too. Easy fix)


  5. Kourtney Heintz / Feb 16 2015 6:08 pm

    In our town trees were hacked down and left as ugly stumps by the town. The owner of the property protested with signs and called it a a massacre. I applaud him for speaking up. We all want safety and if a tree is growing too close to power lines or a branch will knock someone in the head, of course, it makes sense to do some trimming. But there is a big difference between careful trimming and hacking up a tree.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 16 2015 6:18 pm

      Whoa. What a horrible cutting. Here there would be lawsuits. Pretty active tree conservation groups in the area. It’s yearly pruning time here along power lines, too…the power company will come into the yard this spring if homeowners don’t do it themselves. Common sense and consideration of others used to be so normal.
      Talked with my brother in VA who said one of his kid’s family is there as a neighbor’s tree fell and took down their power lines. They have a small baby. We decided it was good to have family spread a bit to there would be shelter available in case of one storm or another!


  6. colonialist / Feb 16 2015 6:17 pm

    Tree him end has stuff! 🙂


  7. Brown Road Chronicles / Feb 16 2015 9:14 pm

    Maybe the person that lives there is the kid from “The Giving Tree”! I have to say over the last several years we’ve had three out of four giant (and I mean giant!!) oak and maple trees come down directly around our house. Amazingly none hit the house, although there were some close calls. I loved the trees and the shade but I get where people are coming from.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 16 2015 10:25 pm

      Oh, how did I forget to include that reference?
      This is hurricane country – Ike went directly over. We know tree damage. (people/power companies are out now with the yearly trimmings) If he was worried about trees and his house, surprised he left the 2 much larger ones about 6 feet from his front walls…or maybe they are gone now, too. Must go see. Right now some of family in the cold cold east coast stayin’ with others since neighbor’s (untrimmed) trees crashed and took out the power lines. If it’s not one season, it’s another. Thanks for giving that perfect comment

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Robin / Feb 16 2015 10:31 pm

    LOL! I really enjoyed the choice of spins you put on this one. I was also so glad to see that the Ghiardi Compton Oak is doing so well. Looks like it’s thriving in its new home.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 16 2015 11:28 pm

      Who know what lurks in human minds…but it’s bound to be fascinating. It was mild and a perfect time to visit the oak’s park. Molly loves running up and down the hills (It’s flat here. Even little hills are a luxury and oddity. giggles). Keeping an eye on the tree. Thanks for running along


  9. The Hook / Feb 16 2015 11:48 pm

    If I’m going to the U.N., you’re coming with me.
    Your brilliance demands to be utilized properly.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 17 2015 12:08 am

      Accompanied by our loyal canines and assorted bloggers in tow.A force to be reckoned with for sure. First we’d have to teach country representatives all how to laugh out loud. Laughter is the universal language. (What’s the dress code? I’m sure it said black tie and tails, but they keep shoving this white coat at me…) Always enjoy your visits. Thanks for hacking down a comment to leave!


  10. EllaDee / Feb 17 2015 5:33 am

    What? My neighbour has a cousin who lives near you? No way… I thought there was only one person who could wreak that sort of tree carnage. And they’ve alway got a good reason. Yeah right, sure.
    Our neighbours invoke security & visibility (i.e. their ability to keep an eye on the goings on) and complain about heat and noise.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 18 2015 2:56 am

      Stumped. Went back by this morning and it’s still there. But with a few notches out of the ground level trunk (not enough to be serious) I think the guy thought he was going to dig out the roots and topple it over. There was some shovel activity there one afternoon. All the dirt’s back and grass on it. A bit bizarre. Must keep an eye on the scene of the crime. Could be an inept relative of your neighbor. Thanks for chopping up a comment to leave.


  11. Aquileana / Feb 17 2015 11:45 am

    Great post PhiloMouse!… I wonder why some peeps are so obsessed when it comes to pruning trees… One can say that they just like to see them almost bare, as if there were autumnal trees. Well I may exaggerate… I’d say instead that they act as preys of a sort of decorative mania… Less is more and if it natural, we’ll make it look artificial.
    Once again, the imprint of culture and civilization is opposed to Nature (and it is such an old-fashioned and useless dichotomy *Sigh*). Sending you all my best wishes!. Aquileana


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 18 2015 3:04 am

      There was a landscape/garden trimming style in France and England that warped plants into the oddest forms on the “groomed” estates. So much work for abnormal vegetation. These oak trees naturally get long thick swooping limbs that are quite like sculpture. The trick is to get those limbs to branch off the main trunk at least 6 feet high – they will sag like drapery. A little cautious tree training is a good idea.(Some types of tree “joints”/forks off the main trunk are naturally structurally stronger to support the length and weight as the tree limbs grow) It takes a lot of study – if you goof it up, it’s difficult to regrow. I love to walk under the old oak lanes in the parks and old neighborhoods. True natural elegance. Thanks for leafing a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. susielindau / Feb 18 2015 1:47 am

    We have a fourteen-year-old oak that’s struggling. It doesn’t look as bad as your photo….. yet!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 18 2015 3:15 am

      These oaks are native and grow without much problem…unless encountering a lightning bolt, or human with a saw. There one tree around the block that got zapped last year. A tree guy hacked the top 2/3s off. A weird stump about 8 feet tall. But now it’s actually got new branches coming out the top…like Alfalfa in “Our Gang”. But this new hatched job looks a little iffy…I think he tried to dig all around the base determined to dig it up by the roots over the weekend….huge fail…all the dirt shoved back and grass on it. Wonder what the next move is.
      There is some weird oak tree disease the county agent is warning about. Hope your tree is just saving energy for the spring (which is coming…oak and pine pollen out here. early plants budding…and yet another cold arctic front to slam us end of next week. Not going to deter a determined plant apparently. Sounds like up and moving about much better now. YEA! Thanks for branching out to leave a comment here

      Liked by 1 person

  13. jannatwrites / Feb 23 2015 4:40 am

    Oh my, that IS a bad pruning job! I hope they don’t cut hair… take a little off the top? No thanks 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 23 2015 1:27 pm

      What is that trim rooted in? The stump is now about 2 feet high. They seem to be taking it down in stages – a little each weekend. Looks like a lot of extra work to me..or maybe they decided to create a bench for the school bus stop? Thanks for rolling over this way!


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