“A society grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they know they’ll never sit.”

If that’s the case, then we’re in trouble if you go by an article in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The story is titled: The Newest Status Symbol for High-Net Worth Homeowners: Trophy Trees, and looks at how the super rich are paying upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring in huge old trees to their property by helicopter, barge, and flatbed truck.

The appeal of transporting a trophy tree is easy to explain, said Raymond Jungles, a Miami-based landscape architect. For one, a big tree helps mitigate the scale of a very big house. A unique or particularly old tree, like a piece of art, is also a great conversation piece. Lastly, it means high-net-worth buyers don’t have to wait for a newly planted tree to grow on their site. 

So much for planting a tree under whose shade you’ll never sit. It’s all about instant gratification, and status.

One landscaper has developed his own technique, which he calls “arbor division,” for moving the largest trees. It involves slicing the tree vertically into several parts using 6-foot-long saws with specially hardened blades, transporting the individual pieces to the site, then reassembling the tree with steel aircraft cable, ratchet straps, and bolts.

He said he came up with his technique of cutting up the tree before transport years ago after some particularly demanding clients insisted that the trees on their site be delivered with their canopies intact rather than stripped back to the trunk. They didn’t want to wait for them to sprout back later.

Again, there’s that need for instant gratification.

The landscaper notes that cutting the trees vertically, leaving each piece with a portion of the root and foliage, transforms them into separate organisms. While the bark around them grows back as one, inside they are effectively separate living trees.

I don’t know anything about trees, but something about this just does not seem right. Taking a tree out of the place where it grew over several years, and then cutting it down and moving it just to satisfy a wealthy homeowner seems unnatural.

We are lucky to have a beautiful oak tree in our front yard that dwarfs our house; I can’t imagine not having it. But someone had the foresight to plant that tree a long time ago, so that it could be enjoyed by future generations, and not by the original planter.

It seems as if these wealthy homeowners have no desire in going down that path.

Perhaps if there is a rule in place, like we have in our township, that you have to plant six new trees if you cut one down, might mitigate the impact of what these wealthy homeowners are doing. Perhaps the number of new trees they have to plant is based on the value of the tree they cut down.

That still doesn’t fix the problem, but at least there is some benefit if this continues to be a trend.

56 thoughts on ““A society grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they know they’ll never sit.”

  1. I also don’t like the idea of wealthy people moving large, old trees.

    It also reminds me of what happened here in our city regarding old trees that were planted or growing by the side of the road. They need to be cut down because of the need to widen the roads, but environmentalists do not want the old trees cut down.

    I think it’s still in a stalemate due to court orders, and legal matters.

    It would be nice to be able to transfer them to a different location…

    But the idea of moving a tree from some old forest seems wrong.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It definitely doesn’t sit well with me… trees have a spirit and to cut it in portions to transport it ..totally wrong… the statement about living separately beneath the bark once the bark grows back over the cuts doesn’t sit well with me just for vanity and to flaunt your wealth…I have large trees in my garden thoughtfully planted by someone else years ago and I, in turn, am planting trees although I will not see them in all their glory I can witness their growth …for me that is a pleasure…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s their money, so I guess they can do what they want with it, but wouldn’t it be better to contribute something to the world rather than showing everyone how wealthy you are?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Yes, they can, Pete and that’s the root of the problem sometimes before you flaunt your wealth you should take a step back and see how it is perceived by others…it’s called consideration and in these days of climate change etc a bit of thought should be applied …

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I had never heard of slicing up trees, but moving them at all seems wrong; I feel a story coming on – I am sure the tree could easily wreak revenge by ‘accidentally’ falling on the house or maybe the roots will find their way into the basement…. Have you heard of The Green Man?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, it just does not seem natural. I have not heard of the Green Man… but I like your premise of the trees seeking revenge. I think the part of Wizard of Oz that scared me the most was when the trees came to life and started attacking Dorothy…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more appalled by the flamboyancy of wealth… This is just plain sad. Though it brings me no joy to hear this, I am glad you shared it, Jim, or I may have never known of such atrocities. Just as culpable are the landscapers and arborists who facilitate this for the money it brings with little concern about the right or wrong of their actions. And we wonder why our society is up in arms over income inequality. Next they will be buying immigrant children to be used as “living” garden gnomes. And we will stand by and watch, feeling helpless to stop the rich and powerful.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I dislike this so much and I agree with you. missing the point of a tree and everything that it stands for.

    this spring, my city has an initiative to give away 10,00 new baby trees to plant in the city. I think this is more my style and my daughters are each getting 1 for their yards to grow into the future. if you cut down one here you must replace it with two. I think that’s brilliant.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I don’t really like this idea. Instant gratification is just going a bit far out!!! I would feel I missed out on too much by not seeing the tree grow over the years. Although not instant, there is gratification in that too.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Trees aren’t meant to be status symbols! This is a ridiculous display of wealth and selfishness, by the entitled, tone deaf people who don’t deserve the place they have in our society. Such a shame the Kardashians’ TV show is ending: they could have had episodes while they all sit around talking rubbish while watching their newly planted 500yo tree wither as they suck the oxygen from its environment…

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sure I saw the series currently on here being trailed as the final one. I certainly hope that’s right! It probably is, given today’s news that Caitlyn Jenner is running for California Governor – that will give the assorted airheads something to do.

        The tree story is so typical of the filthy rich: so much money that they don’t know what to do with it, and laze around trying to find ever more outlandish status symbols.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Let those rich old fools have their gigantic trees. Trees are a gigantic pain in the butt. And the larger the tree, the bigger the pain. Every tree requires a lot of care. You have to water them (at least out here in the desert). You have to keep them trimmed. There are leaves to rake. Sometimes they lose large branches, that must be chainsawed. And sometimes they tip over in high winds, and destroy houses, cars, power lines, or people. Trees . . . ugh.

    I think that I shall never see,
    A sight as hideous as a tree.

    A tree whose sucking mouth is prest,
    Against the foul Earth’s dirty chest.

    A tree that stands in clods all day,
    The muck, the yuck, the slimy clay.

    A tree that may in summer wear,
    Snakes and vultures in her hair.

    Upon whose bosom crows have slain,
    A robin’s hatchlings, in the rain.

    Poems are made by tools like me,
    But only heroes chop down trees.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I get disgusted when the wealthy are able to circumvent the egalitarian rules that govern the rest of society by buying their way around them. One of these is being able to pay your way onto high occupancy lanes on the highway. If rich people can’t carpool, they should sit in traffic like the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess paying to be in less traffic does not bother me too much, although I don’t think I would ever do so. If the money is going towards keeping the highway maintained, that seems like a good way to raise some money. But this tree thing seems ridiculous…


  11. Part of the joys of home ownership is watching the trees and shrubs around you grow with you and your family as tiny preciou memories are made. I guess beyond the disturbing technique those homeowners just stripped themselves from these small pleasures of life.

    (should be added to the list from the last post)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. From my youth, I can still remember the tiny blue spruce tree planted in our backyard. My brothers could hurdle it easily. Now it covers at least a quarter of the yard. Nature’s treasures are worth waiting for.

    Liked by 1 person

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