A gift of eucalyptus trees by Plymouth City Council to local gardeners in the 1980s has backfired 30 years later.
Mr Elbrow, aged 37 and from Estover, says there are about 80 tree surgeons and many professional gardeners in the Plymouth and South Hams area.
His boyhood ambition was to drive a train or an ambulance, and he used to be involved in the Plym Valley Railway.
He joined First Great Western (now Great Western Railway) and passed tests to drive trains, though he never became a train driver.
Instead, after five years he was made redundant.
“I fancied a change of career anyway, and I love being outdoors,” he said.
“Being a tree surgeon is enjoyable but can be dangerous, especially in high winds.”
Nothing is wasted in Mr Elbrow’s business: twigs, bark and small branches are chipped to provide mulch for private gardens, council allotments and chicken pens, while larger-diameter wood is sawn and put through a hydraulic log-splitter at his yard at Tamerton Foliot.
Normally his job involves a head for heights, but the reverse was true last June when a huge tree fell across the Plym near Plymbridge, blocking the flow of the river.
Instead of climbing up ladders, Mr Elbrow had to wade deep into the river to chainsaw the tree into sections and float them off downstream.