BBG Treehouse Razed

It’s evil tidings Tuesday, evidently.

Yesterday, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden removed the last of a beloved London Plane tree. Most of the giant old tree had been cut down earlier. Left until yesterday was a viable, hollowed-out stump, continuously, gloriously sprouting at the top. It was known as “the treehouse,” a quirky landmark that quickly became beloved: kids called it a fairy house, and adult visitors were fascinated by it. It should have become an educational focus.

Instead, according to someone who was social media-ing as the tree, contractors removed it while staff were on break yesterday. Both staff members and community members opposed the removal. The garden’s brilliant horticulture department, however, doesn’t make the rules. The BBG’s President mysteriously claimed that the sprouts were a danger. Coppicing and pollarding, ancient tree management strategies, evidently weren’t an option for him. This is, by the way, the same President who dismantled the garden’s science department in 2013.

I wrote about this at the time. Scientists renowned in the field were terminated; New York City lost some great educators. The herbarium was about to be shipped out of state, until another institution jumped in at the last minute to keep this vital local resource local. The New York Metropolitan Flora Project was terminated … though the BBG’s web page claims scientists are still working on it!

I also wrote on the occasion of the subsequent transformation of the garden’s mission statement into marketing blather. Getting rid of science and scientists went against the garden’s mission, so they simply changed the mission. (Orwell died before such non-profiteers became a thing.)

We often assume non-profit institutions are free from the corruptions that beset… institutions. But when staff are too intimidated to speak out in public, you know something is profoundly wrong.

There’s an awful lot of ugliness under the veneer of the sanctified appellation “non-profit.” The way this big-institution philanthropy thing works is that boards of directors made up of the wealthy, who get tax breaks at the expense of the rest of us, hire Presidents whose job is to fawn over the board. It’s institutional incest: they protect each other (see also: WNYC, AMNH). It’s no aside to note that the rich folk on these big institution boards are also often supporters of Republicans assaulting democracy and the environment.

Meanwhile, legions of unnecessary VPs combine in a front against the employees, those with all the actual botanical and horticultural knowhow, and the community. (Let’s not forget that in the BBG’s case, the city, that is, us, are also funders via our tax dollars.) Sadly, the vicious social relations of management lording it over employees are replicated everywhere.

3 Responses to “BBG Treehouse Razed”


  1. 1 Diane D’Arcy July 24, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    Do you have a photo of the late tree? If so can you post it?
    Thanks, diane


  1. 1 Brooklyn Botanic Axes Aborist | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on August 7, 2018 at 5:01 pm

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