Trees Topple at Teysseroles

Chapelle de Teysseroles, dwarfed by the trees
Chapelle de Teysseroles, dwarfed by the trees

I don’t like cutting down trees unless I really have to. I prefer planting them. However, the two enormous pine trees in front of the chapel at Teysseroles, which we are helping to restore, had just got too big. So we designated today as tree-felling day.

Our association’s president, Alain Vignes, said his uncle told him that he was there when the trees were planted. This must have been 90-95 years ago. The uncle now reposes in the cemetery. The two taken down today were all that was left of an alley of trees leading from the gate to the door of the chapel. The SF counted the rings and reckoned there were 103.

Trees obscuring the chapel front
Trees obscuring the chapel front

We had several good reasons to take them down. First, they had shallow roots and a gale might have uprooted them and toppled them onto the roof of the chapel. Since the roof is the only sound part of the structure, that would have been a pity. Second, they had become too tall and if we had just lopped off the tops they would have looked ugly. Third, they obscured the front elevation of the chapel. Finally, their roots were doing untold damage to the graves lining the path.

The nephew of one of our group fells trees for a living. He agreed to do the job for a “prix d’ami”. A young man in his twenties, he shinned up and down the trees, cutting off branches before felling them. Although he wore a hard hat and used a safety harness, I admired his courage. The taller of the two trees was about 15-20 metres high. He swung about up there like a large monkey.

“It looks nice now,” he said of the bare trunk he had just stripped of its branches. “Shall I leave it like that?”

A hazardous job
A hazardous job

I missed seeing the trees fall since Saturday morning is my stint at the library. However, I left the SF with copious instructions for using my camera and he acquitted himself quite well.

Timber...! The larger tree bites the dust
Timber…! The larger tree bites the dust

The trunks of both trees were arrow straight. Alain would like to use the wood to make some pews for the chapel, which would be a fitting end for the trees.

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16 comments

  1. Correct. There was a danger of the two trees in front of the chapel’s west elevation falling into it in the event of a gale. Since the prevailing wind here is westerly it was quite a high probability. It looks as if this is a subject you know something about.

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  2. I hate seeing trees felled for whatever reason – emotional of me, I know. Round here they are going mad, stumps are everywhere. I love trees and although we heat and cook with wood, it always makes me sad that they have to come down.

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  3. I hate cutting trees but I accept it has to be done. The previous owner of our house planted a Ginko five metres from the front of the house – they grow to be 30 metres plus – and luckily they’re slow growing as otherwise we’d already be overwhelmed. Even luckier Kevin the cat likes climbing it and as he’s very fat he’s done some natural pollarding.

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    • That’s helpful of your cat to keep the tree under control. Our hefty cat is also a tree climber but not in any particularly useful way.

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  4. Too bad that they had to come down! I love that they will become pews for your lovely chapel, tho. When do you start inside? I’d love to come take a peek and maybe some photos. I could even lend a hand with scraping plaster!

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    • We start inside with removing the old plaster on the Friday after Easter, i.e. 5th April. It promises to be messy and hard work. And we’ve agreed to start at 8 am! But let me know if you want to come over sometime beforehand and I can let you in to take some shots. If you want to help out as well, you’ll be welcome. We can never get enough volunteers.

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  5. What a great idea to recycle the wood from the trees into pews. That way the trees can still be a part of the chapel.

    My mother absolutely hates cutting trees too. However after Hurricane Sandy, the partially fallen trees around our property had to be cut down along with a few others. I don’t feel too bad about it since our property abuts a small wood and there are plenty of trees in there.

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    • Yes, it’s a nice idea isn’t it? It retains the link with the chapel. Mind you, someone else did point out yesterday that the sap was rising which might make the wood less easy to use in that regard.

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  6. Pine trees have incredibly shallow roots. One came down in the tempete in December 2011 and took down a lovely old beech tree all the branches on one side of a very old oak tree on our land. Those trees certainly would have been a threat to the chapel. Like you we hate cutting trees down but sometimes you need to.

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    • I don’t know why they planted them so close to the building in the first place. I suppose no one thought they would get that big.

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