As you drive through the countryside looking at other people's trees, notice that some of the most picturesque and interesting ones are the most imperfect. They are veterans whose characters are accentuated if not entirely imparted by their scars, deformities, or malignancies. To mind comes many a storm-tattered white pine, towering above its surroundings with what look like wild pennons of courage still flying high. Such landmarks can be preserved for generations by keeping their stubs trimmed, their diet ample, and by getting an electrician (a tree expert will be higher priced) to install lightning protection.
To mind comes an ancient catalpa, in a fine New Jersey lawn, which is bowed over so far that its trunk is horizontal, its branches vertical. (See Photo. 23.) Many people might have removed such a freak long ago, but the owners of this one cherish it. It looks like—and perhaps it is—an old trail-marker of the Delaware Indians.
On a back road in the Watching hills stand four ancient red oaks, all much squattier than is their species* habit and each with grotesque lumps and knobs where the main lower limbs should be. Perhaps they were amputated in their youth by some woodsman, clearing a tote road, who was too busy to fell the trees entirely. Then cankers set in which deformed but failed to kill them, so that they have aged like a quartet of gnarled gnomes crouching at the roadside. To worry about the health of such a group, if they lived in your grounds, would be silly. To remove them in favor of more graceful trees would be to compound the woodsman's felony.