My reverence for trees
Last updated 7/19/2019 at 5:12am
My entire life has been surrounded by nature and the wonderful world of trees and the fabulous plant kingdom.
As a young lad, I had the opportunity to live on my grandfather’s farm and woodlands of northern Sweden for many summers.
I was always fascinated by the vast abundance of plants in that Nordic habitat in the land of the midnight sun. I spent summers hand cutting hay with a scythe and raking it with a wooden rake into piles and then pitched the cut hay up onto horizontal poles out in the fields to dry before we hauled it into the barns for winter storage to feed the cows.
One of my memorable chores on the farm was working out in the pine forests with my Swedish grandad and tending to the needs of the forest land. This care entailed cutting trees and hauling them down to the river banks by horse and sled to the flowing river that transported these cut timbers to the sawmills on the coast of the Baltic Sea.
Perhaps this practice set the blueprint for my future life and my passion to work amongst the natural canopy of the tree world.
As a horticultural landscape designer and certified arborist, my life has been surrounded by the green world, and I have planted thousands of trees up and down the state of California for many communities.
Street trees give many benefits to communities all over the world and the stress placed upon these trees produces different life-spans. They have to be replaced in time, but there is a future life on the horizon.
The rise of insect populations today has invaded urban trees, and many have to be removed for safety reasons. Sometimes these trees grow too large or out of their given space and have to be taken down.
A complete new industry has evolved over the years, and when these heritage trees are removed, the creative woodsman enters and recycles their logs into beautiful, renewable wood products.
Portable wood sawmills can be set up, the cut-down trees can be milled into wood slabs and in a new life can be a dining room table, a wood mantel, cabinets, a wood bar top with log stumps as seats, carved sculptures or just good old-fashioned seating.
These portable log mills come in a wide range of capabilities and sizes. They are used across the United States and even out in the woods. Trees can be milled on site in a forest clearing.
Many log cabins have been built by using these versatile log mills that can be hauled into a wooded site behind a pickup truck. Once a Wood Mizer portable sawmill is set up to cut the logs, they can be milled into various size timbers and down to planks for many cabin building needs.
The portable wood mill is constructed, so the cut tree logs are lifted up onto the rails and secured tightly in place. The actual cutting is by a long circular band-saw on a track that cuts along the log to the depth that is regulated to the thickness desired by a one-man log cutter.
The thickness of the cutting can be regulated to from thin veneer to six inches or more. Once the entire log is cut, the slabs are removed and the band-saw is set back to its beginning for another cut. A lot of this process requires the professional eye, and the many decisions made for each log are guided by the log cutter’s experience.
There is a vast array of ornamental trees that are now being cut down daily and removed due to various factors and processed for a new life, and some great wood potential lies ahead. This recycling saves not taking the cut trees to the landfill, and residents must get their thinking into “recycle, reuse, repurpose and re-think” to alter their life styles with trash.
When a tree has to be cut down and removed, the log-cutting arborist must make some judgment calls about the quality, configuration, size and external character of each log. This evaluation is key to see if the criteria for milling the log are worth the time and effort.
Experience and knowledge of this arboricultural understanding is vital, but not until the long circular band saw actually cuts into the log can they truly see what exist within each log and the tree’s internal aesthetic value.
The grains and annual rings of each tree are a historic treasure of how the trees have grown over their lifetime. Weather patterns can be evaluated by understanding the spacing within the annual rings of the wood, from drought cycle periods to wet rainy years and the tree’s age can be determined by reading the number of rings from the outside just under the bark to the center of the tree trunk.
Dendrology is the science of this understanding on how a tree has grown and the patterns of weather conditions over centuries can be understood and studied.
The variety of urban trees that are being harvested can range from oak, elm, sweet gum, gingko, ash, ficus, sycamore, maple, grevillea and more. Each species of tree has its own internal wood character and personality inside the trunk and, in just one log, can have many variations of patterns that can be very unique.
There can be small borer holes that can create canals or channels deep into the heart of the tree, and this action is not known until the wooden slabs are cut. and shows additional charm in each plank.
It is like going on a wood hunting expedition to see what lies inside each tree, which is part of the journey and excitement of the challenge.
When these logs are milled into slabs of various widths, lengths and thicknesses, woodworkers can create wonderful forms of art. The northern California redwood tree has some fantastic internal grains and different colors and can be stunning as a dining table.
To me, these art wooden planks can be a historic time-table when the family gathers around for supper and the tree’s character can be read when bowing their heads and giving thanks to the tree’s life history that it tells them.
People need to give praise to the tree world, for it is embedded throughout their lives, and the world needs people to replenish and plant more trees for the cooling of the planet.
Join me this fall to collect native acorns, so they can be germinated, grown and eventually set out into more oak woodlands around Fallbrook.
“The best time to plant trees was 20 years ago; the next best time is today.”
Roger Boddaert, Maker of Natural Gardens and a certified arborist, can be reached for landscape designs and professional tree care at (760) 728-4297.