To Prune Or Not To Prune

  • by XpatAthens
  • Thursday, 05 February 2015
To Prune Or Not To Prune

I awoke last Thursday morning to the sound of chainsaws and yelling. Not what one wants to hear early in the morning – or anytime, really.  It went on and on, and I decided to take a look outside to see what all the fuss was about. What I saw was actually quite disturbing. Six guys, chainsaws in hand, clambering up the beautiful orange trees on my street, chopping of the branches until there was almost nothing left. I was speechless.

Totally upset. I have never lived in a place where orange trees grow, and to live on a street lined with beautiful thriving trees – this has been something amazing for me. I never took for granted the ‘exotic’ green privacy offered by these trees. So to see the street covered, literally, in fallen branches was not an easy sight.

I am not a horticulturalist. I am not a ‘green’ person. I cannot keep a cactus alive. I have plastic plants in my house. But I did truly love the orange trees on my street.

And let’s be honest, those guys with the chainsaws... didn’t look like the type of guys who might know a thing or two about gardening. I would not likely give them open access to municipal greenery, much less to a chainsaw.

Now the street looks bare – barren, un-shaded, less character, exposed. The green leaves also covered up most of the graffiti on the street – not so any more. The neighbourhood was completely transformed. I had thoughts of panic – should I complain? Should I move? Could I find another street with trees??

So I did what any expat city-boy would do in a time like this: I called my Greek aunt in the village for answers. After some laughter at my plight, she calmly explained to me that this pruning has to be done, from time to time, to allow the tree to keep growing, to keep healthy and to keep strong. I should take a pill for my headache and check back in a few months’ time when she assured me the branches will have begun growing again.

So, it seems I must endure this tragedy, this decidedly ‘first world’ problem. I must allow the trees time to regrow, I must cover up my windows for fear of prying neighbours, I must glance away from the graffiti on the street and wonder who exactly I might call to talk about getting it removed.

One thing is for sure: I will never (ever) get tired of seeing orange trees on the streets of Athens.

Until next week,


In this weekly space, keep up with ‘Jack’ as he navigates daily life in Athens… Anecdotes, stories, hits & misses, the good, the bad and, well, the rest…