My Tree Care Philosophy
Trees are living beings and deserve respect.
The more I learn about trees and their amazing lives, the more I realize how all their different parts come together into one being. Just like your own body, with all its different tissues and processes all working together, so it is with the tree.
The more I learn, the kinder I become. When we realize the interconnectedness of leaves, twigs, branches, trunk and roots, we naturally approach the tree with kindness and empathy and will prune carefully and with respect. These ideas are fully expanded in my blog.
Being able to see clearly and assess carefully is the greatest gift I can bring to a tree. Once we see clearly, knowing what to do is easy.
Simply, a strong natural connection with trees, a caring empathetic approach that looks to do what is best for each tree, to increase its longevity and level of health. I will only do what is right for your tree.
A Little About Me and My Tree Services
I have been a Calgarian since I was in grade two. Growing up here, the main use of our free time was exploring the Rocky Mountain front, with different activities during all seasons. This outdoor life, interests as an amateur naturalist and tree work have filled my life.
I come from hardy Western Canadian stock and my boyhood summers were spent on a mixed farm in central Saskatchewan. That farm, planted in 1928 by my great-grandfather, was full of groves and shelter belts and a group of Scots pines. That wonderful enclosed place among those trees is where I made my first deep connections to the natural world.
Beginning Tree work
After school and a four year stint with the Alberta Forest Service, I took a job with a local tree service. That work lasted through the summer, fall and into the winter. After that amazing first season, I never looked back. Now was the start of my real education, working in Arboriculture.
Years, then decades of tree work followed. Always curious about my work, I stated reading tree books. Many tree books. One of the first precious jewels was Dr. Alex Shigo’s New Tree Biology. Truly a manifesto for a new generation who were looking beyond flush cuts, heavy pruning, topping and cavity treatments.
When I took Dr. Shigo’s course at Olds College in 1990, I felt I was truly launched.
My style of work
After being deeply steeped in Dr. Shigo’s philosophy, I took a distinctively holistic approach to tree health. Many times we just need to step back out of the way and give the trees the soil, water and sunlight they require. Usually that’s all they require, although the urban environment has its own problems.
One key principle is the concept of the whole tree, the balanced tree, with all of its major parts working in sync. The leaves, twigs, branches, trunk and roots—not five parts but one whole tree in balance. Disturb and injure the roots, look for less growth above and potential top die back. Remove too many leaf-bearing branches, look for a strong reaction of shoot growth to try to compensate.
I maintain a happy medium and prune without stressing the tree, and end up with a tree that, at first glance, doesn’t look pruned; it just looks right.
Services I provide
My work direction is now heading more towards consulting. Using my decades of hands-on experience, I can now solve most Calgary tree problems. No one knows it all and new insects and diseases sometimes show up. But I have a solid base of understanding of the Calgary situation.
My hands-on tree work has also changed. I now only do artistic pruning, enhancing the tree’ or shrub’s beautiful natural form. Pines, smaller maples and junipers all strongly lend themselves to natural Bonsai forms. Changing the regular shape into something distinctive, through careful branch removal, is a joy to perform.
There are a lot of different ideas out there about trees. Some of them are just not right or healthy. Phrases like “heavy pruning,” “a full shaping,” “really cut back hard,” “take them down a few feet”—this is not language that is in harmony with my philosophy.
Where I work
Calgary has grown into a immense city and it is impossible for me to get to all corners. Now located in west Bowness, I have had to limit the zones I work in. Roughly my northern limit is the ring road east to Beddington Trail, south on Deerfoot to Glenmore Trail and back around into the northwest.
This is not cut in stone, and every day I help people who live far outside my work zone by looking at their pictures.