Electric Topiary

Allison Guy
June 1st 2011

Has this tree gone Pac-Man on the power lines? In truth, the slice through the side of the tree is the work of 'utility pruning.' Topiary was once determined on entirely aesthetic lines, be it geometric shapes in formal gardens or more whimsical forms of animals or people.

Now, the inadvertent topiaries of electricity are a common sight: the oak split down the middle, the pine with its top lopped off, the elm with an entire side of branches shaved away. It represents a curious compromise.

Rather than being cut down, the tree is permitted to coexist with the utility cables. Along with insects, lightning strikes, and wind, power lines are now an important factor in how the landscape grows.

Image via The Small Wave 2.

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Joyce Nabuurs: To me this question seems to be a logical next step in the emancipation movement of the past century. More and more women entered the workspace, but the responsibility for pregnancy and childrearing remained female.

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