George Orwell, "A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray," The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters
, IV: In Front of Your Nose, 1945-1950
(London: Secker & Warburg, 1968), pp. 149-153 (at 151):
The planting of a tree, especially one
of the long-living hardwood trees, is a gift which you can make to
posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the
tree takes root it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other
actions, good or evil.
Id. (at 152-153):
A thing which I regret, and which I will try to remedy some time,
is that I have never in my life planted a walnut. Nobody does plant
them nowadays—when you see a walnut it is almost invariably an
old tree. If you plant a walnut you are planting it for your grandchildren, and who cares a damn for his grandchildren?
anybody plant a quince, a mulberry or a medlar. But these are garden
trees which you can only be expected to plant if you have a patch of
ground of your own. On the other hand, in any hedge or in any piece
of waste ground you happen to be walking through, you can do
something to remedy the appalling massacre of trees, especially oaks,
ashes, elms and beeches, which has happened during the war years.
Even an apple tree is liable to live for about 100 years, so that the
Cox I planted in 1936 may still be bearing fruit well into the twenty-first century. An oak or a beech may live for hundreds of years and
be a pleasure to thousands or tens of thousands of people before it is
finally sawn up into timber. I am not suggesting that one can discharge all one's obligations towards society by means of a private
re-afforestation scheme. Still, it might not be a bad idea, every time
you commit an antisocial act, to make a note of it in your diary, and
then, at the appropriate season, push an acorn into the ground.