It’s time now for an interview with one of Ashland´s favorite arborists, Casey P. Roland. You read his columns monthly in the LocalsGuide. Oftentimes outspoken, direct, and funny, Casey P. Roland is out on the limb to get the job done for you.
Casey, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us today!
Thank you Shields for the opportunity to talk about what I hold dear to my heart! It never ceases to amaze me how many people in town read my article as they are lining their parrot cages with it! Seriously though, it really isn’t just an advertisement as much as a sharing of experience and knowledge that at some time I either found out the hard way, or someone passed on to me earlier in my career. A special thanks to all the local arborists who have conferred, educated, argued, confessed, suggested, and changed my outlook and insight about tree related issues. I truly could not have done as well without all of them! I consider myself mighty damn lucky to be in an industry that, while we are all competing against each other, we are all family in a sense, and help each other out however we can. You seldom see that kind of camaraderie among trades, and that is what keeps me going…
Casey, you hold the unique privilege of knowing Ashland for its beautiful trees and treetops. I imagine you find your way around town differently than most people.
Go to the third Deodar cedar past the beautiful Japanese maple coming from downtown, hang a right, proceed to the giant Incense cedar on the left, bang your next right at the hollow sycamore tree, and proceed to the big weird Pondo with the funky twin tops. I’ll be working at the third white oak on the left, just past the row of Italian cypress, before the dead White birch on the corner. Street address? Couldn’t tell ‘ya, but you can’t miss it…
Casey, you have been writing a column for years now in the LocalsGuide but I am not sure many people know how you first became interested in trees and tree care? Please take us back and tell us a little bit.
As a wee lad in my teens, school just bored me. I mean it was like an 8-hour root canal every day, for me it just plain sucked, so I bailed out of high school in my junior year and started working for a local tree guy. As time progressed, I found out that climbing was a lot more fun than being on the ground, and it came with a commensurate pay raise. The only problem was my acrophobia. I got it from my mom, and she was scared to death of heights. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree (pun intended) and it is the same for me, always has been, always will be. Maybe it is some kind of self-helping exercise, I don’t know. I always wonder how much better I would have been without it, hard sayin’, not knowin’ I guess. After 42+ years of climbing you would think it would have kind of worn off a little bit, but it still feels the same to me. Everyone asks, “how do you do it?” “Greed, plain and simple” I reply, but in reality, I just dig trees and tree work so much I just swallow my fear and plod along, but I am getting better at faking it.
Casey, it’s taken you years to gain the experience and knowledge you have. What do you consider some of the formative lessons that you have learned?
Here we go with my “isims of wisdom.”
“What goes up, just hasn’t fallen down yet.”
“There is a bigger and badder tree around every corner.”
“Expensive is only when the quality isn’t worth the price.”
“When in doubt, pin the throttle.”
“Never underestimate the stored energy of a heavy load under tension.”
“If ever in doubt, double it, and add 10%.”
“Never help high voltage find its way back home.”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it until it is.”
“Just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
“You can have it done cheap, right, or fast. Pick one.”
“Anything vertical grows exponentially, when horizontal.”
“The difficult is going to take a while, the impossible will take a little longer.”
“The older I get, the better I was.”
One of my favorites! It has to be the worst thing you can do besides screwing up the root system of almost any tree. Winter is the best time to see this. East Medford and quite a bit of Ashland has suffered from this bit of malpractice in years past. When you see the structural scaffolding of a tree take a weird wanky janky form at about the same height in the canopy, you can almost be sure someone at some time butchered the poor thing. It really takes its toll on the whole tree system. Besides compromising the structural aspects of the support system of the canopy due to decay from the pruning injuries, it starves the tree by robbing it of its food producing leaves/needles. This kills a fair amount of root mass as well, and the tree tries to make up for this by regenerating new growth. The process drains a lot of reserves the tree stored up for future productivity leaving a compromised savings account at about zero balance, as it were. Sad truth is, the tree would have been about the same size as the eventual regeneration anyway, but now has multiple leggy, weakly attached, stupid looking “tops” that are all supported by columns of decay! Don’t top your tree,