Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Just trees and nothing but the trees.

You can’t have it all.

If you live in a warm country, where it is dry almost every day of the year, you can’t expect such magnificent trees.

Some prickly bushes, maybe. But this lush greenery everywhere you glance, this endless variety of colours... you can only get if you are prepared to put up with miserable rainy days for most of the year.

Trees here are amazing. And right now, they are in their prime. Magnolias, cherries and apricots...stunning.

But not all of it is due to the miserable rain. Brits look after their plants.

I already talked about their obsession with nature. The trees in this country get looked after much better than people. Take my job. If they want to get rid of a person, it is a lot easier, let me tell you. But the trees are very hard to chuck away.

My boss spent over 6 months trying to get one old tree removed in our yard at work. We were expanding, and needed a new wing added to our building. The old tree was in the way. But it was protected. One of my most favourite colleagues was also getting old, but was not as well protected as the tree. So when they decided it was time for him to retire, he had to go. It was a bit more complicated to retire the old tree. We almost had to build around it.

I also knew this very wealthy guy who recently moved to a rich area of NW London and decided to buy a house. In his garden, there was a tree that, according to the rich guy, looked pretty dead. He was hoping to have it removed; however he could not just take it out. He had to call two independent commissions, and both of them decided the tree was not quite dead yet. The fact that the guy was ludicrously rich and happy to pay as much as was needed did not help. The fact that it was, in theory, his garden did not get him any further either.

But back home, things are much simpler.

I grew up in a building surrounded by parks. The trees there were not as green and not as tall as the ones I see here. But they were still lovely old trees. And now, so many of them are gone. It is really not a big deal back home, you see. Who cares about trees? They chop the old ones down and plant new ones- I don’t quite get the logic behind it, but there must be some. Or, they invest in shiny acrylic ones that light up at night. Sty-lish. No trees, no shade in the summer heat. Just big empty squares, steps and pretty fountains with lights.

I feel bad for one particular tree I loved when I lived in Baku. A very large Cupressus.

It was there all my life, in the middle of a large park. As a child, I loved running up to it as fast as I could, look up and feel as if it was falling on top of me. It also had large gaps in its base; and when we were older, we would hide in there or build a pretend house.

Now, every time I go back, I just get to stare at the locked gates. No more park, no more trees. Just some ugly cold buildings inside.


  1. I know exactly which park you're talking about. Pionerskiy sadik, right? The one that's now Turkish embassy. I used to love that little park. Sad face :(

  2. We're fighting a battle in Aberdeen at the moment to try to stop corporate interests and the inept City Council destroying huge old trees as well as extensive public gardens to create 'a city square' - in other words, more concrete, more retail outlets, more Starbucks. Just as with Donald Trump and his golf course just north of here, it seems money does talk. (The fact that it talks crap doesn't seem to matter.)

  3. @Bill: I guess they would try this least you guys are fighting.

  4. Sometimes trees make you feel at home, right? Maybe that's why it's so hard to just get rid of them.

  5. Scary, in this country trees are worshipped by some people, after all isn't our future king a well documented tree hugger? People have actually been murdered in this country in disputes over garden trees.

  6. I cried when crazy wind took down an old tree in front of my boyfriend's home. He was crying with me too :)

  7. Yes, that park makes me sad whenever I go to baku. Now they cut all the remaining old trees in front of "dom artistov" and put a statue of Ataturk there. I have nothing against that great father of turkish nation but statues are just chunks of rock that will heat up in summer and contribute to the rise in temperature whereas trees help to cool and purify the air. I don't think anyone in baku bothers with being rational or logical, let aside "green".

  8. Dear Scary,
    let me tell you what happens to most of the old and unique trees that are disappearing from the parks of Baku... in case you didn't know, they all of a sudden appear in the dachas or villas of the gov't officials or get sold for wood. Especially the walnut trees.
    This is a very touchy subject for me and now sitting here in Lima I am wondering what happened or will happen to my fav tree in the Boulevard where they are building the new Carpet Museum now...

  9. Very sore subject for me too…Unfortunately, majority of people who leave in Baku now are not Bakuvian. They don’t feel attached to the trees, parks etc. They don’t have the childhood memories of Baku with its glorious parks! My aunt tried “to fight” when a park with very tall cypresses in front of her house was being destroyed to build yet another “Novostroyka”. But what one Bakuvian woman can do against the huge army of relatives who came from Nakhchivan and rule everything in Baku?!?!?