The great garden wars of 2014

A number of people have shown interest in what is happening where I live. The lay out is fairly typical for rural Hong Kong.

Our house has a small private garden at the rear. The development is very small and in front of the houses is a strip of land. It is low quality and drops away very steeply. It is government land and designated as green belt.

Over 30 years the original residents adopted the first part and created a short cropped area of grass where children can play. There are paths and large bushes and some trees. Beyond that, lower down, a few residents have tried to grow fruit and veg. Its very green, lots of wild plants and that means lots of insect life and of course my birds love it. Many of the shots I show here look out over this area and I have come to appreciate its wildness. Not so everybody and I understand that. It has been made worse by the gardener falling ill and the entire area became a jungle.

A few weeks ago the chairman of the residents company, who runs the place like his own personal fiefdom, cut down a large tree. People were unhappy. At a meeting we were told it had been done and paid for privately. However I spotted a charge for the work in the management accounts. Skulduggery!

Because of the poor upkeep another resident took matters into his own hand and ‘landscaped’ the lower section with a chainsaw. He took down another, 30 year old, much-loved tree. War broke out.

Within days the chairman had his own battalion of chainsaw gardeners on site, slashing at everything with the mantra “it will grow back”.

They are out there now as I write. The pleasant late summer hum of the bumble bee has been replaced with the rasping roar of the chainsaw. Two more big trees are in their sights today. All this work is manifestly illegal because it is government land.

Some shots of the carnage:






USVV6I of course have lost all my bird perches. My garden list was 73 covering private and communal. I think it will stay at that number as most of the cover has gone. Its a crying shame.


31 thoughts on “The great garden wars of 2014

  1. All my sympathies my friend. I have fought wars against the chainsaw and lost to business interests and I know how bad it feels because it will not grow back in our life time and with the pressure for land, maybe never. Although the chainsaw is a wonderful labour saving device a lot more thought would go into the need to fell if we didn’t have them.

  2. That is horrendous on several levels, Andrew. It looks awful and although things may grow back, they will grow into something that will be totally different than before they were cut. They may not come back if these guys don’t know what they are doing and damage their systems permanently.
    One guy apparently has a large ego and wishes to express his sense of personal power by disregarding the wishes of others. And, then of course, there is the issue of destroying public government controlled property. In my own crude way, I’d say these guys need a little pruning of their own…..too much testosterone in their systems.

  3. I’m speechless.
    It is very sad that people think with thier wallets and not thier hearts. I’d pitch a fit at the association meeting for the charge. I’d also wave my finger at the guilty parties. They should have to replace them with a quality tree at the very least. The balls on some folks. Seriously. What about an anonymus call to the city? I’m evil like that. ..

  4. “Some of the trees partially obscure the sea view and some of the residents believe they have a right to that view and that it increases the value of their property.”

    And there you have it. The freakin’ almighty dollar AGAIN calling the shots. You can bet that these chainsaw wielding cretins would not have left their couch otherwise.

    It makes me angry. It makes me sad. I’m so sorry, Andrew.

  5. I like the above quote of the Hopi/ Navaho’s prophesy. Your landscape looks very lush and beautiful looking towards the water. So sorry about the trees!

  6. So much chemical contamination and radiation on every part of our Earth, plastics soup oceans with fish and birds filled with bottle tops and other plastic debris they feed to their young thinking it’s food, mowing down of vast forests with tribes still in them – for monetary profit (and the other reasons), utterly nauseating and downright evil. Let’s keep doing each what we can. “When the earth is ravaged and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people shall come unto the earth from many colors, classes, creeds and who by their actions and deeds shall make the earth green again. They will be known as the Warriors of the Rainbow.” Hopi/Navaho prophesy.

    • It is a never-ending battle, Dawn. This week it is the wanton destruction of mangroves in HK. For profit so the land can be developed. Its a SSSI. The government is spineless and does nothing.

  7. Andrew I’m horrified! My knowledge of Hong Kong is limited to around 12 visits, but, I always tell friends back home of how trees are treasured there, as I so often see them springing up out of the pavements, with carefully laid edging around them. And on the hillsides too, there they proudly grow, with all the retaining mesh or cement spread around them, helping to prevent land slips. I feel sick and deeply saddened.

    • The problem, to put it bluntly, Willo, is the view. Some of the trees partially obscure the sea view and some of the residents believe they have a right to that view and that it increases the value of their property. There is certainly a case for doing some carefully managed landscaping and maybe trimming some branches but instead the mob has been let loose with chain saws in an uncontrolled manner. The upshot is that ‘everything must go’. Its mayhem.

  8. Private citizens taking matters into their own hands. What a dastardly deed. A sty to the eye of those idiots. I am sorry this has happened to your little paradise, Andrew. It must feel like a straw in your craw.

    To Ebb, I can’t plant in the heat and expect a tree to grow even with tender care. It is a scorcher here everyday so in late Fall I will plant some type of bird friendly small naitve tree. There is one large osage orange on my fence row and I think it is safe for at least the next 50 years or more, provided out planet is still functional and supporting life. I’ll be long dead by then but I’ve already contributed lots of native flora over the past 50 years. But when I’m gone my kiddos will sell this property but maybe the life oaks will remain safe from development.

    • You are a real heroine, Yvonne, in the way you care for the environment and its creatures. If I can plant a tree I will name it “Yvonne’s Tree” and I am sure it will thrive for many years to come.

      • Yvonne…. I’ve heard it said that one can’t plant a tree in the heat of summer and I suppose the warning is valid. But I’ve been able to plant trees and shrubs at any time of the year with a successful result. 90-degree+ days in summertime are no different. I’ve just got to be careful not to disturb the root ball, choose a favorable spot for the planting, prepare the soil properly, and tend to the new tree with all due diligence. It makes no difference to the tree whether it is living in the pot or in the Earth.

        The Osage orange I’ve chosen for this gesture has lived with me for one and a half years now. It sits with a hundred and fifty other saplings in the little plant clinics strewn about 3 Dog Acres. Every now and then one finds its way into the Earth here. The others I give away when the time is right and the recipient is ready. You’d be surprised to know how difficult it is to find good homes for young trees.

        Of my original crop of ten Osage orange saplings obtained from the Missouri Department of Conservation in early spring of 2013, one lives in the ground here and two others have found homes elsewhere. The rest are growing in their pots in the clinics, awaiting their destiny.

        Of course it’s always best to plant in the late fall — or even better in the dead of winter when the tree is dormant.

        I’m fortunate in that I can care for the trees, shrubs, and flowers under my stewardship without interruption from the demands of the world out there. There’s sufficient time to tend to the gardens.

        Ebenezer Baldwin Bowles

  9. The spirit of dominion rather than the spirit of stewardship….

    Unable to understand the natural world, afraid of the briar patch, and robbed of a spiritual life, these men rape the land and are absolved of their crime through the exercise of secular power won through personal wealth.

    Tomorrow I shall plant a tree here at 3 Dog Acres as recompense for their crime. May each of us plant a tree. I’ll plant an Osage orange on August 25, 2014. I’ll send you a photo, Andrew.

    Each of us: Plant a tree.

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