It was such a sad spectacle to witness that it has taken me six years to record it in a blog post: the removal of the last of the row of six cypress trees that separated the back garden from the front. They were already mature trees when we came to live here: their thick foliage and wide columnar growth gave the impression of tall green pyramids. These hardy trees with their needle-like, evergreen foliage and acorn-like seed cones did well for they clearly didn’t mind either the clay soil or the periods of drought. I suspect they were Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii). One died, then another; one began leaning in a precarious fashion … each space thus created allowed the remaining trees to spread their branches ever wider, until there was a single tree left. It was the one growing the closest to our house.

There it grew for many more years until we experienced a drought so severe that there was a real danger of fire. We had already experienced a raging fire over the road and seen trees ignite and flare up as the flames licked at their feet. We witnessed sheets of flames carried across the open and start a new ring of fire where they landed. It was time to take stock: we cleared the garden of dried leaves and heaps of garden refuse; the indigenous trees were not a problem – the cypress was. Not only was there the danger of the branches ripping tiles off the roof during the strong Berg winds, but should the tree catch fire, so would our house. It had to go. I apologised to it profusely throughout its ordeal – which began when the tree fellers brought their weapons of destruction.

They carefully assessed their approach to its removal.

First to go were the branches growing over the roof of the house.

The lower limbs were removed next.

Until only the top was left.

The whole tree was chipped and I like to think its nutrients have lived on in our garden.



  1. I share your sadness. We had ours heavily pruned because the branches kept dying. We have kept the trunk, up which we are training roses and a clematis; but miss the goldfinches which nested there each year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had pruned ours repeatedly, but in the end there was too much space which allowed the limbs the freedom to expand. The space its departure left behind is well used and I hope that within a few years an indigenous spekboom hedge will define the separation between the front and back gardens.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Keeping a clear space around a home is so important: sometimes because of the threat of fire, and sometimes because of storms. Here, the danger often is tree-falls during exceptionally rainy weather, when the soil becomes saturated and high winds can tip trees right over. Losing a friend like your tree always is hard, but intentional removal sometimes is the only course.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I too, understand the sadness of needing to remove a tree. I didn’t know others felt that way as well. Thanks for sharing your experience.


  4. I can understand just what a sad day this must have been for you, Anne. When we moved into this townhouse there were three enormous palm trees growing right against the building. Almost invariably when one of their heavy leaves dropped it would take with it a few tiles and a gutter, expenses we could not continue to carry. There was no option but to have the lot removed, but my heart ached so…


  5. It must have been sad to see it go, but also a relief not to have to worry about the house catching fire. I had to remove 12 very tall ash trees from my backyard ten years ago (ash bore disease) and that still hurts, as there went my shady yard. It was interesting to watch how they did it though, not a job I would want.


    • Thank you for missing me! My keyboard gave up the ghost, leaving me feeling bereft and incommunicado for ten days!!! Hopefully I will be back to normal soon and we will again be able to enjoy tea either on your stoep or mine 🙂


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