Autumn in Seoul exposes the craptastic pruning jobs from last year

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's autumn now here in Seoul, and as the leaves begin to fall off the trees in November this is the time of year where the craptastic pruning jobs done on the trees by the road really make themselves known. What happens every year is this: around December or so when all the leaves have fallen off, for about two days you'll suddenly see branches all over the street and trucks parked by the road, on top of which is a group of guys going at last year's growth with their saws. BZZZZZAWWW- BZZZAAARRRGHAWWWW, and down goes another branch. It's all a very roughshod and slipshod and really quite horrendous job really that gets done to the trees, and after they are done they become leafless and quite stumpy until spring finally comes around and covers them up.

Now, the result of this haphazard pruning every year is this: right around now when the leaves begin to fall, for a few weeks you get to see a really quite horrific sight, somewhat resembling what happens when you take a rubber glove and fill it with water like a balloon - the middle part is much too bloated, while the fingers suddenly change from a part of the hand into some sort of weird stubby protrusion that doesn't fit well with the size of the rest of the hand at all. The palm is too large, the fingers are far too small. That's what happens here too. After such a rough pruning job only some fairly thick parts of the tree remain, and one year of growth is still much too thin in comparison, so what you see is the trunk, then move up to where the trunk splits, gets a bit thinner, a tiny bit thinner, and....all of a sudden you're now looking at twigs.

Tough to imagine? That's why I took pictures. Here's the view from yesterday. Looking at the trees with leaves still on them you can imagine how hidden this stays throughout the summer, but not any longer.

(and click on the images to see them in a much larger size)

These ones are probably the worst.

Notice the tree on the right there, the one that looks normal? That's because...

it's a tree in an apartment complex next to the street, where they hire real gardeners to take care of the trees. Here's what a tree that has been properly pruned should look like in the fall.

That's more like it. Now I've almost arrived at my destination so I took one more picture of a sad tree before turning off the camera.

So will the chainsaw truckmen be back this year too? I hope every year that they've gotten around to hiring some real pruners, but who knows. One thing Korea does a good job of though is changing and adapting, and the city does continue to improve year after year with more green space, better walkways, more buses running on natural gas, etc. Whether they've gotten around to doing something about the horrible pruning job in the winter though is hard to say.

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