How I love that old book, it changed my life.
In the 80s there was a buzz in the tree service air, a great change a-coming; anyone with a feel for what was going on felt it. Most publications, professional groups, schools and instructors felt it. The tree service industry is long overdue for a major shake-up. Here it comes.
This was still the age of serious drop crotch “pruning”, heavy brutal topping and flush cuts, enough to make a tree lover faint. Dr. Shigo loved his trees like no one else I have every met. As I travel along the path in the forest he made, and I think I am getting pretty deep, I look up and see his blazes stretching far out of sight ahead of me.
Yes, a man with a mission. And he changed the tree service world; no class in tree care is taught today, anywhere in the world, which doesn’t include some of his key concepts, compartmentalization, the branch/trunk collar interaction zone, or a basic understanding of how important leaf mass is.
The book was hot off the press and I got one as soon as I could find it, then I read it four times until his beautiful philosophy became my own. Dr. Shigo was recently retired from a productive and fruitful career with the US Forest Service. He had spent decades on a pioneering project to find how decay operates inside the trunks of trees. Literally the first tree forensic pathologist, he broke new ground repeatedly as his research and hundreds of professional papers took us all into a new age.
And I had good timing; my start in tree service coincided with the publication of the new tree biology, what luck! Here was something real to hang on to. Dr. Shigo wasn't happy with just publishing, but he also went on tour, a world tour. For nearly two years he traveled to universities, colleges and other venues preaching his heartfelt, deeply researched message.
These four-day workshops were called the new tree biology workshops; each lasted 4 days. Thinking on it now, Shigo’s knowledge was much greater than I at first realized. Those 24 workshops were international, using native tree material for class room study materials. Shigo must have been familiar with all those different species.
One of these workshops was held at Olds College, in 1990. How lucky could a local boy get! And that is where I got my book signed! He says touch trees---really this was his one command, calling us all to think about what we were doing. But I like to touch the book also, because Shigo touched it too.