This past Tuesday afternoon, a mixed group of horticulture and business students made our way to Pitti Palace, the home of Boboli Garden. The property holds over 100 acres of pristine landscape that is visited in herds by tourists as well as native Florentines. This land showcases key elements of a typical Italian style garden which include; symmetry, statues, grottoes, and an abundance of carefully trimmed green trees and shrubbery. Although this garden is majestic and seemingly perfect, nature will eventually prevail against man’s design.
On our stroll of the garden, Dr. Lombardini pointed out a cedar (Cedrus atlantica) tree that had tall steel braces supporting its trunk and steal banding supporting its base. The gardens are currently using this system to prolong the life of the dying tree. The inevitable death of this giant cedar could be due to the following; decay from microorganisms, erosion from planting on a hillside, lightning, wind, and soil deficiencies. In cases like this, horticulturists and arborists have to make a decision to try and save the tree or remove it completely. Ultimately these professionals have to weigh the costs of these options and choose one that will best benefit the situation at hand.
At Boboli Garden, the decision to keep this ancient tree must have been thoroughly debated. The steel braces and bands have to be customized to fit the tree and can be very costly. Not only are the braces expensive, they are not aesthetically pleasing to the visitors. This system will only keep the cedar tree alive for a short amount of time comparatively. Also, extra attention, work, and funding is necessary to keep this tree standing. Some would argue that the extra money could go to finance new trees for the garden.
I believe the final decision to save the tree was made out of an emotional tie to the old, withstanding cedar. By removing the tree, they would also be removing the history and tradition. When the tree eventually dies, the arborists and the director of the garden can say they did everything they could to keep the tree alive and standing.