Landscape, wildlife, and adventure photographers (among others) will often keep their most treasured locations and subjects secret. And while this might seem rude or selfish or mean, the tale of The Broccoli Tree in Sweden—told beautifully in a recent vlogbrothers video by best-selling author John Green—explains exactly why this practice might also be necessary.
The Broccoli Tree, for those who aren't familiar, is (or was) a tree in Huskvarna, Sweden that somehow became social media famous.
Photographing this tree became a passion project of photographer Patrik Svedberg, and over the course of 4+ years, the tree gained quite a following on Instagram. In fact, it kind of became Insta-famous so-to-speak, accruing over 31,000 followers to date.
But Insta-fame comes with consequences in this day and age. No matter how beautiful or inspiring, no matter how much joy something brings to the general populace, there will always be those people who get some deluded self-satisfaction out of destroying it.
This is what happened to The Broccoli Tree.
One day in September of 2017, Svedberg went to photograph his favorite tree, only to find that someone had sawed one of the tree's branches almost all the way through. It wasn't long before the whole tree had to be cut down.
You may be surprised to find that Green's takeaway isn't that people should keep these locations a secret, or not share photos of them at all. In fact, he comes to a totally different, if somewhat melancholy, conclusion:
The truth is, if we hoard and hide what we love, we can still lose it. Only then, we're alone in the loss. You can't un-saw a tree, but you can't un-see one either. The Broccoli Tree is gone... but its beauty survives.