In Los Angeles, a pine tree planted 10 years ago to commemorate the life of George Harrison has died resulting from an apparent act of horticultural homicide.

The perpertrator?


Somewhere, wherever he is — strumming on a sitar with Ravi Shankar, pruning a rose bush, or sharing a meal of veggie korma with Linda McCartney in the great beyond, perhaps — Harrison himself must be having a good chuckle over this news. (His guitar, however, is probably gently weeping).

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the tree was planted as a sapling in Griffith Park near the Griffith Observatory in 2004. A small plaque installed underneath the now-deceased tree identifies the arboreal monument as the George Harrison Tree. “In memory of a great humanitarian who touched the world as an artist, a musician and a gardener.”

Following the dedication is a quote from Harrison's friend and the godfather of transcendental meditation, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: “For the forest to be green, each tree must be green.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge elaborates that the over-10-foot-tall pine, infested and eventually killed by bark beetles and ladybugs, has been removed and a new tree will be planted in its place, most likely this fall.

Sad, yes, but at least the tree — and other trees at Griffith Park killed off by bark beetles — didn't suffer in a prolonged fashion. LaBonge explains to Reuters: "It was weakened by the drought, bark beetles just attacked it. It had a quick demise. I happen to hike every day in Griffith Park and the tree just turned a bad corner this year."

Harrison himself lost his battle with lung cancer in Los Angeles in 2001. He was 58 years old, preceded in death by his former bandmate, John Lennon.

Aside from his gig as lead guitarist and secondary songwriter (“Something," “Here Comes the Sun," et al.) in some totally obscure 1960s rock band, Harrison — the “Quiet Beatle” — is perhaps best remembered for his subsequent collaborative and solo musical ventures; his lifelong dedication to Eastern philosophy and religion (and yoga and vegetarianism); his psychedelic dabblings and hirsute hippie phase; his tireless support of UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations; and, last but not least, his legendary greenthumb.

An avid gardener, Liverpool-born Harrison was, above anything, an escapist who was equally at ease with a hand trowel as he was with a guitar pick. Harrison famously dedicated his 1980 autobiography, “I, Me, Mine” to “gardeners everywhere," a choice that seems only appropriate considering that low-key horticultural pursuits dominated much of Harrison's post-Beatle career. 

According to George Harrison gardening lore (and there would appear to be much of it), as a young boy growing up on the lushly landscaped Friar Park estate in Oxfordshire, the musician's son, Dhani Harrison, thought his father was a humble gardener, not a world-famous rock star, by trade. "Being a gardener and not hanging out with anyone and just being home, that was pretty rock 'n' roll, you know?" said the younger Harrison of his dad in a 2011 Rolling Stone article that examines Harrison's fame-eschewing tendencies.  

In 2013, the George Harrison Memorial Garden opened to the public at the Bhaktivedanta Manor Estate, a manor-turned-temple in the English countryside that Harrison gifted to the Hare Krishna movement in 1973.

Via [L.A. Times], [Reuters]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

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