Great Storm 25th anniversary: what we learnt about our trees – Telegraph

This is a great time of year to plant a tree, so here is some great advice from England:

we used to dig a deep round hole and fill it with rich tree compost which we planted the tree into. We now know that this encouraged the roots to stay in the planting pit; rather than spreading out laterally in search of nutrients and moisture, they grew in a circle. In severe cases the roots became almost “pot-bound” and there were few wide-spreading roots to anchor the tree into the ground.


That bike’s a bit small for you, Mr. Tree

vashonbiketree2bigNow this is quite a sight: A rusty old bicycle engulfed by a tree being carried upward in the trunk as the tree grows taller. It’s apparently a familiar site to residents of Washington State in the US, where the tree is a bit of a tourist attraction on Vashon Island. But it’s a new one on me.

And apparently, not unique. There’s another bicycle tree in Scotland, in the village of  Brig o’ Turk.

It occupies a spot close to the old smiddy (smithy), and local folklore
has it that the village blacksmith was in the habit of propping up or
hanging various articles, which were then forgotten about and gradually
absorbed by the ‘ironivorous’ tree.

This reminds me of Old Man Willow in Lord of the Rings, who swallowed up the the hobbits when they leaned against his cranky old self for an afternoon nap.

I sure hope no one’s riding those bikes.

Photo by
Jody Boyman – Red Ranger Came Calling


It’s another sad day with the loss of a beloved friend’s mother, the ache made keener by the need to honour a difficult request. People react to grief in different ways, sometimes in ways that demand much of those who love us, turning sorrow into a test of a long friendship that must not fail.

I took a long walk tonight in the mature woods behind my home. Something about the old trees did much to soothe me, the solidity of the trunks, the knuckles of roots plunging deep in the earth, the delicate whispering of leaves in the breeze. Rooted, strong, standing firm through difficult seasons and terrible storms.

Our future on the head of a pin

I’ve posted quite a bit lately on the struggle to protect farmland on the west coast of Canada from industrial and suburban development. I now turn your attention to the ruckus caused by the Ontario government, who has designated the Oak Ridges Moraine north of Toronto, Ontario, out of bounds to greedy developers. Farmers are screaming blue bloody murder

By now, George and Iva had hoped to be spending dinnertime arguing over whether to move to a condo or bungalow when the sale goes through on this 80-hectare dairy farm, which George’s parents bought in 1918, six years before he was born.

…Without the possibility of developing the property, the "dickering" with real estate agents, as George calls it, abruptly stopped.

The couple are now angry that the sale of their land, which was to be their retirement fund, has, they say, been sabotaged by a government more interested in protecting pretty countryside than the fate of the farmers.

And though the government says it won’t happen, the Evanses want compensation.

Oh really?

Dave Pollard has written as excellent essay on the subject, This is the way the world ends.

As for the farmers, who lauded the Oak Ridges Moraine act, they’ve shown their true stripes in their violent opposition to this new bill which was designed to protect their livelihood.

Farmers do have it tough, there is no doubt. But as I see it, the issue of whether George and Iva should be able to retire to a condo in Florida is a tiny pixel in a much bigger picture. Populations are exploding all over the world, and arable farmland that is not gobbled up to accomodate more people is slowly (but not slowly enough, unfortunately) being sucked dry by global warming and the insatiable human demand for water. The net loss of thousands of acres of farmland each day worries me; multiply that by just a couple of hundred years and humans of the future will be reduced to growing vegetables on, much like George and Iva’s concerns, the head of a pin.

Now, before you dismiss me as alarmist, consider this: Humans have been dependant on farming to feed themselves for the past 10,00 years, and I like to operate on the assumption that we will continue to exist for at least another 10,000 years. Barring some kind of bizarre evolutionary adaption, I’m also operating on the assumption that homo sapiens will continue to need to eat. If Canada, of all countries, can’t get its act together to ensure its own food security for the future, what country will? The one we hope to buy food from for the next ten millenia? Oh yeah, I’m putting my money on that one.

People, in this case farmers like George and the real estate speculators, seem to operate on the basis of this philosophy:  "Forget the consequences, I want what I can get for my own comfort today, because the world ends when I die.  If it doesn’t — well, who the hell cares anyway. I’m dead." As Dave Pollard says, this is the way the world ends.

Let’s hope it’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Continue reading “Our future on the head of a pin”

Tree Killer Caught

Back in August I wrote that a number of mature trees in Vancouver had been poisoned by someone who apparently wanted to improve their oceanfront view.

The Vancouver media reports some good news:

"Five trees were poisoned with herbicide along Beach Avenue in Vancouver’s west end. A woman who owned a condo directly opposite them has been charged."

Link: Woman suspected of poisoning beachfront trees appears in court.

Continue reading “Tree Killer Caught”

One for the Good Guys

Wow. I’d never heard of Wangari Maathai (“Mama Miti” – Swahili for “The Mother of Trees”) until today’s news reports that she’s been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Now I’m grateful that in a world full of scummy politicians and reprehensible world “leaders”, today the light shines on this remarkable lady. It’s a good day. We hear about far too few of them, but it’s reassuring to learn that giants still walk among us.

BBC News: Locals Toast Mama Miti’s Famous Win

Don’t stop there. Learn more about Wangari Maathai…

It’s interesting that the truly inspiring people — Mama Miti, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, and probably countless others who work quietly, in obscurity — come from the impoverished and disadvantaged places of the world. Where are the “great leaders” of our comfortable first world countries? It makes me sad to think how much we lack in that which we need most.

I don’t really know why I care so much. I just have something inside me that tells me that there is a problem, and I have got to do something about it. I think that is what I would call the God in me.

All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet. It must be this voice that is telling me to do something, and I am sure it’s the same voice that is speaking to everybody on this planet – at least everybody who seems to be concerned about the fate of the world, the fate of this planet.

– Wangari Maathai