Cass Turnbull of Plant Amnesty is a lively and effective activist on behalf of trees..she relentlessly pursues increased appreciation for the vital role trees play in our city, and has taught us all the difference between skillfull, necessary pruning and butchery. Please pass on this recent letter she sent out....
It's that time of year when caring, ever-so-slightly politically minded people send out an e-mail to their elected officials. If you are in favor of tree preservation efforts, I encourage you to follow the TAKE ACTION link here to send a prewritten letter to the City of Seattle, and/or King County, and/or join TreePAC.
If you are not politically minded, and no one can blame you for that, please ignore this message.
Founder of PlantAmnesty, T2C2 (The Tree Canopy Coalition), and TreePAC
And I loved this response to Cass's plea from Seattle landscape architect Brooks Kolb on the great benefits of trees in the city, and reasons for preserving and caring for them...
"As a landscape architect designing residential gardens in Seattle, I have to practically beg my clients to preserve their large trees. In addition to all the points you list about the benefits of trees, I always add that large, specimen trees are a gift to the entire neighborhood and the landscape quality of the neighborhood. Usually, it is to no avail and they cut them down anyway, but I've managed to save a few over the years.
In my experience, Seattle homeowners remove trees for 4 basic reasons:
They fear the trees will fall on their house, resulting in both physical danger and severe and expensive property damage.
Trees block views and views always trump trees.
Trees cause too much shade, when all they want to do is enjoy a spot in the sunshine for gardening and relaxation.
Trees are too messy, dropping tons of leaves, seeds and sticky goo in their gutters, on their cars and over their gardens.
For Plant Amnesty education campaigns, here are a few key points addressing these concerns that may help homeowners decide voluntarily to preserve their trees:
- Tree branches fall on house roofs much more often than the entire trunk. To protect a house, usually it is sufficient to limb up trees without removing them.
- Lake and mountain views can actually be more beautiful when framed by large trees. You have to prove this to homeowners by showing them beautiful photos of that type of garden.
- Shade gardens can be extremely beautiful, and there are abundant plant selection options for shade and dry shade in the Pacific NW. Usually, there's a sunny spot elsewhere in the garden that can be adapted for a seating area.-
This is a tough one - the only response I could make is that you can plant low-maintenance natives under large, messy trees like big leaf Maples and you can hire people to clean your gutters and rake leaves.
Best wishes for your tree preservation campaign!
Thanks, Brooks - we've recently lost so many big trees in Langley, some removed because they were unhealthy, but more often because the homeowners felt they were messy, too big or blocking views. I and other neighbors feel the loss of the trees greatly; the town is diminished by the loss of canopy. lTo add to Brook'slist of key points - when you take down a big tree, particularly a native, you're destroying an entire ecosystem, as well as changing the scale, light, wind, views, and sense of shelter and place for all the rest of us...