Working In Harness

Fortunately today was sunny and dry, albeit rather chilly. Had it rained all day as it did yesterday I would not have been able to photograph the workers from Arbor-Venture Tree Care taking down

our ailing and brittle cypress tree photographed by Jackie 5 days ago.


Four men comprised the team of tree surgeons. One climbed into the branches while another remained beneath him, partly, I imagine, for security, and


especially to receive severed limbs as they were lowered.

Others reduced the limbs underneath the cypress,

carried them along the garden to the back drive, and fed them to a chipper which spewed them into a purpose-built truck.

Even early on in the process the fearless chain-saw wielder up aloft demonstrated his awareness of which branches he could safely walk along.

Sometimes he didn’t have much to stand on at all,

although he was well harnessed,

and belted with equipment.

All the men wore masks as protection from flying wood chips.

Gradually, continuing to display enviable flexibility, the lumberjack worked his way along the main branches,

eventually, pausing for final height direction from the Head Gardener,

completing the framework for next year’s scented climbing plants.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piri-piri lemon chicken: roast potatoes, including the sweet variety, and parsnips; with bright green broccoli and Brussel’s sprouts, and crunchy orange carrots, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Calvet Prestige Bordeaux 2017.





  1. Wow, that is a pretty serious job Derrick, great photos! That fellow is nimble, brave and careful – leaving a perfectly shaped climbing frame for our future delight. Did it take them all day to get that amazing outcome?

  2. Calls for some cutting remarks, the first of which is that I find it downright criminal to do that to such a lovely tree. Other solutions could have been found for the colour.
    I am amused at how totally the tree feller is camouflaged in that one shot.

  3. I was sad when some of our trees had to be cut down because they were dying. It’s good to have people who know what they’re doing, and you did a great job of documenting the process. What plans does the Head Gardener have for the spot?

  4. These are familiar scenes as most years we have a chainsaw massacre where our gardeners chop down ailing trees or those that look as if they might topple over. The limbs are fed into a hopper and the trunks chopped up for firewood. Of course, there’s also regular pruning of the olive trees, of which there are many.

  5. Oh how I remember when I was young and did a similar job, but on my own with a hand saw. I only used the chainsaw when I was on the ground. It took about two weeks to do what your boys did in a day. After I sold the place the new owner brought in contractors who leveled about five 150 year old cypress trees in a day. Then they piled them up and burnt them. Los Bastardos.

  6. Reminded me of when we needed to remove trees for our new extensions. I felt so guilty until we were told that the trees were diseased and would eventually need to be removed anyway.

  7. Trees take such a long time to grow and then to grow old, to wither and to die. It is unfortunate that in our closely packed urban environments we are unable to allow them to do that. We too had to have an old, ailing, cypress tree removed as it had spread too close to the house and was becoming a fire hazard. While the process of felling the tree was painful to both watch and hear, I had a morbid fascination with the confident skill of those who were felling the tree. I have planted a row of Spekboom in honour of the tree’s demise and the plants are thriving in the sunshine.

  8. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.

    I appreciate the finesse and patience of the tree surgeons, and the chronicler of the fall as well.

  9. Your amazing photos captured the work!
    I admire anyone who can do tree-work and do it safely and well!
    Sad to see any tree go. 🙁 My hugs to your tree. My condolences to you.
    (Trees are like family to me.)
    So, Jackie will have climbing plants “decorate” the tree trunk?
    One time, when I was a little girl, my Dad had to cut down a dying tree. He a left the cut stump-trunk for us little kids to sit on, like a stool. 🙂
    Did Nugget do any supervising of the work?!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  10. They have quite scary skills. We had a larch lopped last year and one of them managed to use a chainsaw while dangling more or less upside down from the top of the trunk. The gentlemen in your garden are every bit as skilful.

  11. The community I live is about 45 years old and some of the mature trees are dying out. So yes, I’ve seen these men at work in the trees and the amazing stump-grinder. Has the Head Gardener decided what she will do with that barren patch of earth?

  12. Sorry about the loss but glad you found such skilled and patient workmen to do that difficult job. Your photos are wonderful, Derrick.

Leave a Reply