John Muir famously said “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” Many people in Asheville and the surrounding areas have also heeded that same call of the mountains and found spaces nestled amongst them to call home. The grandeur of the ridgelines and the majestic slopes have an understandably strong pull, many of us are here because of them.
Mountains are incredibly old things, relative to the human timeline, and the Appalachians are some of the oldest mountains in the world. When all continents were connected in the giant landmass known as Pangea, these mountains existed. In fact when Pangea split, the mountain range was torn apart and a section of it exists today as the Scottish Highlands. This is the reason many Scottish immigrants settled in this area, they felt right at home.
When finding homes amongst these stunning inclines, it is only natural to want to look out upon the slopes in wonder and amazement. When you make your home on a mountain side, you become the caretaker of a small part of an ancient geological feature, as well as the ecosystem that thrives upon it. Humans have not historically been the greatest caretakers of these mountains, with clear cuts, coal mining, and mountain top removal, we have displayed our selfish human brutality. However, with time comes understanding, and we are fortunate to exist in a time when civilization is beginning to understand how deeply we rely on the natural world.
As you look out your window or from your deck, and feel the urge to create an unobstructed 180 degree view into these hills, I urge you to consider the impacts that your desire will have on the ecosystem under your care. I know the longing to mow down everything obstructing a 10 mile view is strong, but please remember the trees you want to remove or cut in half are the same ones that hold the hillside together below your house, as well as provide food and habitat for various local fauna. These trees can also hide your house and preserve the natural appearance of this incredibly old land for your neighbors across the valley, and everyone else who has heeded the call of the mountains. As successful adults we learn to compromise, and compromise can be applied to all aspects of your life, including your urge to expand your view.
The good news is that through compromise, you can have a view, retain well structured trees, and help to maintain a healthy eco-system. This is done by creating “view windows” around trunks and large branches. View windows are exactly what they sound like, windows through the forest to enjoy your coveted view. Well structured, healthy trees make exceptional foreground framing for these amazing long range views. These windows are created by pruning branches from trees instead of brutalizing (topping) them or removing them completely.
When opening up view windows it can be incredibly easy to lean into the idea of “if we just remove one more branch, I will be satisfied”. This can easily spiral out into tree removal or brutalization. Stay the course, and be mindful of this desire to increase your view exponentially. Frames should always support and emphasize the work of art they hold.
I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your options for creating a compromise between your ecosystem and your view desires.