Friday, June 24, 2016

A Tale of Two Trees

This blog has many notes describing different types of trees, their usefulness to the planet and on promoting the growth of more trees around the planet published over the last decade or so, as well as elsewhere and in books by the author. In this effort, this author has been inspired by the present Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, from a time much before he was the PM. It has been described in an earlier post of this blog in the twenty-twenty initiative. In turn he too may have gathered a few ideas from this blog as the buried pitcher near trees idea. Links of interest to him from the author’s various blogs are often tweeted to him.

However trees create problems on occasions when grown in home gardens and near buildings. While trees in a forest or a large park may be allowed to grow freely to their full potential, those in home gardens and streets have to be pruned from time to time, especially when they crowd into each other and interfere with the functions of the building or street. This hurts tree lovers like this blogger but it is an unavoidable necessity. This need becomes acute when tree branches interfere with overhead electrical wires if any or jut into walls so as to damage them. While city authorities organize pruning of trees on roads, those inside homes has to be done by the home owners themselves.

When a tree grows near the boundary of a home, branches may extend into a neighbors home. Since one cannot go into a neighbors property at will and does not know if those branches are producing pain or pleasure for them, the understanding on this in neighborhoods around the world is that one may freely prune tree branches that project into one’s property without informing the neighbor if one felt it was necessary to do so. It is the right of a property owner to do so. In case the problem is severe a neighbor may be requested to remove that tree altogether.

Since I have lived in my present home, off and on for over twenty five years, many such trees have been pruned by me over the years in my home. The garden scenario is an ever changing one, at times like a dense forest, at others, somewhat sparse, at times full of flowers, at others with just a lot of foliage in their varied hues. One enjoys the changes over the years as one enjoys the change of seasons with the grace of Mother Earth.

The Two Trees

Let me now come to the tale of two trees that created difficulties for me recently. Both of these trees grow on the front south side of my home. The first is an Indian Black berry (Jamun) tree and the second a drumstick tree. The building construction is close to the boundary wall on this side and an overhead electric wire also runs into the home here. Therefore, I was a bit worried about the trees from the day they were grown. However, I decided to enjoy them for a while and prune or remove them if and when it became necessary. Moreover the plot on the South side was a vacant lot to begin with at the time these trees were grown and one could easily enter there to prune from that side too.

Even giant trees can be kept very small in home gardens with proper pruning and root confinement as we learn from the Japanese art of Bonsai. I have grown many such over the years and continue to including gifting a Bonsai Peepul tree (a huge tree in full form), a tree of good fortune and blessings, in 2007 to a neighbor who appears in this story again.

A seven year old Casia tree growing as a miniature in author's garden

In time the neighbor just mentioned purchased the adjoining plot on the South side it seems and began to develop some parking spaces and a garden in it. They grew a handsome row of the slender Ashoka trees along their northern wall (my southern side). Those of the trees that got full room for their roots to expand have grown tall and erect now but others that were hemmed in by paving and other trees remained slender and weak. Nevertheless they managed to stand erect either tied to or supported by the two trees just described.

Those two were going large with time, especially now because the advantage of being able to prune them from both sides was gone as soon as the other plot got occupied. However, I kept them pruned from time to time on my side of property so that they do not interfere with overhead electrical wiring since that is dangerous and can cause electric current to spread, especially when it rains. The drumstick tree has to pruned also because if allowed to grow tall, its branches can break and fall in a gust, it being a soft wood tree.

I suggested to the neighbors that may do so similarly if they like but since they had no electrical wiring on their side and the black berry fruit was good they let these two trees expand on their side while removing branches from  another Neem tree towards the back of the property because they built a temporary garden shed there.

The First Tree

However, last year a crack appeared in the boundary wall because of the Jamun tree. Immediately I informed the neighbors that they must remove the portion of the tree on their side and I similarly on my side so that the threat is removed and the boundary wall repaired in time before repair work became more extensive. However they let it go until in a recent gust a branch from that tree fell and the crack in the boundary wall became larger. Immediately they acted and that tree has been pruned down to size and the boundary wall repaired with the grace of the Lord. But a lot of surrounding bushes had to be removed for the pruning on my side to make this feasible. The area that was once lush green now looks barren. It has saddened me and it seems the neighbors too but it is only a matter of time and a monsoon or two and lush greenery should return, God willing.

Further, one of their Ashoka trees that was supported by the Jamun tree has either broken or been cut down by them because it began to lean. In time it will grow again, and this time hopefully stronger, since it would have more room around it. With the grace of the Lord, the entire matter was settled amicably. However this was not to be the case with the second tree described next

The Second Tree

As every year this year too, two days ago, because the monsoon rains were about to arrive, we proceeded to prune the drumstick tree, because of danger to overhead electric wiring and because of danger of its high branches breaking and falling in a gust. However, this year when the upper portion of a branch was pruned, two of the neighbors Asoka trees that were leaning on it bent over. The neighbor lady was very upset about it and expressed her anguish in a manner that was not pleasant. It upset me too. The gardener who was pruning and some of the neighbor’s staff retied the Asoka trees in the middle to the branches of the remaining Drumstick tree on my side temporarily to support them in the middle. While this prevents them from falling over, they still lean from near the top as shown in the top picture. The trunks are just too slender to support their weight.

While this problem is not yet fully solved, this tree is creating a bigger problem. It is only an inch or so from the boundary wall and unless pruned right down to the bottom that wall too would crack soon, perhaps as soon as in a few months.  The drumstick tree although not strong, grows fast. Its wood is filled with water to a high extent and only a few strokes of an axe can cut down a branch. For the same reason its branches are not strong and it should never be allowed to grow too tall in a home near where people move because it may easily break and branches fall down in a gust of wind.

With the Grace of Mother Earth who provides all the green and Joy in our lives, praise upon her, this second situation too would be solved soon, and when that happens this blogger shall post an update here.


Ashok said...

In order to add a personal human touch, this blog has included posts with issues personal to this blogger. This was one such and because it mentioned a neighbor I made a print out and gave a copy to the neighbors too so that no neighbor or known person has an impression that I might write something about them online without their knowledge.
Modi ji too was mentioned in this post on the general importance of trees and therefore a link was tweeted to him as well (and his office that sifts through much that comes for him)

Ashok said...

This Sunday the neighbors cut the Ashoka tress from the middle so that they stand erect now. it is the right thing to do with tall trees that become too lean to support themselves. Shorter ones can be propped with stakes. In time they shall grow stronger and more beautiful looking.

Last night Shri Narendra Modi in an interview on TImes Now, a popular Indian Media Channel reiterated his love for trees and forests by describing progress on his plan that involves billions of dollars on planting forests. It is a job creation program too that helps the environment and other countries need to emulate. An older post that mentions such a plan is at:

The link is not active but has to be copied and pasted in browser address bar.