For the sake of trees

  • Tuesday, February 18, 2014

You see it more often than not. A piece of property is scalped; turned into a barren wasteland as ancient live oaks are turned into chip wood and rare ornamentals are left to wither away in a pile. Overlooking a plan for green spaces seems implausible in light of current conservation efforts but it happens all the time - on private and public property.   Investing in one's community can be accomplished in many ways. Keeping up with buildings before they become candidates for demolition is one way. However, this has been the exception rather than the rule in Kingstree as witnessed in the dozen or so homes and businesses that have been torn down because they were allowed to deteriorate to the point they were beyond repair.   Another way to invest in the community is by taking pride in it. Even the simplest of changes can make a huge difference. The Kingstree Beautification Commission is about to embark on a road to aesthetic recovery as they prepare to work with property owners within the historic district. Small fixes such as a fresh coat of exterior paint and awnings hung over entryways will go a long way in creating a welcoming view, even if the property is vacant.   Another step forward will come if the Town establishes an Ordinance to protect the trees in public spaces. The Ordinance will include new development and what many consider the butchering of trees by utility companies. The Ordinance does not however address private property, which is an entirely different animal. Maybe that will be considered at a later time: which couldn't come soon enough for me.   On a smaller scale there is the annual massacre of a landscape favorite: the crepe myrtle. The carnage is easy to spot. Take a drive down Main Street or Longstreet Street (or just about any city) and you'll see not trees (or shrubs in some cases) but stubs jutting from the ground - in some instances whacked off to a mere four feet. Many so-called landscapers are guilty of this practice, which completely escapes me.   For those who aren't aware, crepe myrtles should be pruned, not scalped, in winter or early spring. Yes, in some cases (when the specific cultivar was not taken into consideration and a giant Natchez was planted a foot from the sidewalk), heavy trimming is necessary. But even that doesn't warrant the destruction that continues to be a common practice. Maybe we should deem February Crepe Murder Month to draw attention to the carnage. In the meantime, I've made copies of proper pruning techniques. I plan to pass them out to the heavy-handed blade runners.

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