One of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in the garden was to take out the stringy mango. I bought my house from the family of a woman called Beattie, and it was her brother who built it in the 1940s and planted the mango. It was a beautiful old tree and I was very attached to it. It even had things grown into it over the years – the chain of a hanging basket that was left there too long and a lethal looking hook, put there for who knows what dastardly reason. A very healthy profusion of orchids lived on it, and I don’t even want to think about the all birds and other life it has supported over the years.
I am a person who believes that one of the main problems we currently face on the planet is the systematic destruction of trees over hundreds of years. We have chopped down our forests, everywhere. We are a culture of tree haters – people don’t like trees dropping leaves on their cars, or being a place where noisy birds gather and poop. Personally I think if you are a person who hates trees then maybe this planet is not for you and you should get off it. Go and live on the bloody moon and let us Earth lovers bring back the Garden of Eden that once was.
Beautiful as she was, my stringy cast a huge amount of shade (not dappled shade!) where I didn’t want it and, being a stringy, even the lorikeets and flying foxes wouldn’t touch it. And when I tried to dig a hole at the back of my garden and hit wood, I realised that the mango roots were going to prevent me from planting any other trees in my garden.
So it was with no small amount of grief I made the decision that she had to go. I was devastated. I transplanted some of the orchids onto another mango, organised for a local tree-feller to come and take her down and said my goodbyes to her. But I couldn’t bear to watch the actual operation itself.
Even now I sometimes get tearful just thinking about it – that act of destruction perpetrated by me. I still don’t know if it was the right thing to do. I had the tree cut down because it wasn’t convenient for my plans. I am replacing her with others, but it will be a long time before those trees become grand old ladies and create the habitat that she did. If they ever do.