Should Trees be Forever?
I have a confession to make. About three years ago, I took out the eastern red cedar in my front yard. I know many people feel that taking down any tree is an immoral act. Some would point out that when you cut down a tree, the decomposing wood releases carbon into the atmosphere. Also, you are removing wildlife food and habitat – and eastern red cedar is supposed to be one of the highest value trees for wildlife.
But I don’t care! I’d do it again, I tell you! I hated that tree. It deserved to die. First of all, it was ugly. Second, it took up a lot of space and created a wide barren zone under its drip line. But worst of all were the prickles. They were sharp! They were constantly being shed over a wide area, so walking barefoot in the front yard was a truly painful experience. Not to mention how they would get in your hair, etc.
Plus, it’s not as if there were a shortage of eastern red cedar. When the houses on our block were built, the developer planted one in every front yard, and just about all are still there, along with the silver maples and siberian elms in the backyards.
What’s more, I made amends. Where the red cedar stood, I planted a “Donald Wyman” crabapple. Crabapples also have high wildlife value, don’t they? Well, don’t they? What do you mean, I sound defensive?
I admit, I can’t help feeling I have committed a sin. That I am morally obligated to live with a tree I don’t want, like two people in a loveless marriage, until one of us croaks. But don’t I have a right to happiness? Must I be prevented from trying to grow the yard of my dreams?
Now I’m having conflicted feelings about a big old bridalwreath in the back yard. I want to get rid of it and plant a pagoda dogwood in its place. But guilt holds me back. The bridal wreath is just a shrub, and still it feels wrong to get rid of it. Will I ever be free to garden without guilt?