Friday, May 21, 2010

Clumsy Colossuses...

One could argue this title refers to...

street trees in our Woodland Hills neighborhood;

and/or it refers to

equipment used in removing vast portions of their crowns, while allowing their towering trunks and soaring scaffolding to remain,

and it refers to

City of Los Angeles that may no longer deploy such equipment.

Can any of these collosi be blamed? Aren't they just doing their jobs?

And, didn't we choose to live here? But, who could have guessed, say, 30 years ago so many of our beloved trees would become so diseased, would cause us to be in such an untenable position? And, being a representative democracy, aren't we ourselves the City of Los Angeles. So then, how shall we engage to solve our shared problem?

Poor trees, and poor us who live beneath their colossal crowns...

Can this possibly be called ethical tree care?

How are trees to keep recovering from this treatment? Is it not hastening their decline?

In five-foot (or roughly 1.5 meter) parkway easement (or verge) strips in our neighborhood are planted 80-plus-year-old Eucalyptus trees, some of which the trunk diameter exceeds the planting space. Between cycles of topping by City tree crew, some also attain heights exceeding the reach of most City-owned equipment. They are diseased, they are drought-stressed, and I do not believe anyone knowledgeable would argue against the fact they are the wrong tree in the wrong place. Legacy of a scoundrel of a developer of four score and eight years ago, who called himself "Girard." Yet, having been protected from removal and allowed to mature to gargantuan proportions, while at the same time, repeatedly having been subjected to tortuous topping practices, these trees may soon become the sole responsibility of the owner of the adjacent home. Perhaps I should be glad none remain in front of my home. Yet, I am not unaffected by others in the neighborhood in which I live and garden.

Would it not be better to remove the diseased Eucalyptus trees before they fall on us?

And, plant appropriate somewhat smaller trees in their places? If so, how can we afford to do that? What funds might be available to help with a neighborhood tree planting (including removal and replacement)? And, how can we organize to get it done?

At least two appropriate, low-water-using replacement tree species come to mind: Australian Willow -- Geigera parviflora (Evergreen) and Maidenhair Tree -- Ginkgo biloba (Deciduous.) They would only require training when young to encourage desired form. In maturity, they would not require maintenance pruning other than occasionally removing weak or dead wood.

Now, faced with mandate to balance the budget, according to his "Zine Line Newsletter", Council Member Dennis Zine's staff reports City Council has passed a new budget including "reductions in tree trimming" among other service trimming under the new budget. I understand Zine opposed these cuts.

If the City no longer takes the responsibility for maintaining these behemoths, what then will be the consequences of failure? Meaning homeowner failure to perform timely maintenance, or the tree's demise (failure) or limb failure. Are we just to accept the consequences?

Wrote a letter Thursday expressing my concerns and suggestions to Dennis Zine, Council Member, 3rd District, City of Los Angeles, who represents the interests of our community. I am encouraging others in my neighborhood also to send email and letters to Zine's office. We must share our voices to make our local government work.

Council Member Zine's contact information is available on his website linked here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wildlife and edible gardening...

Just this morning, Google searched name of a shrub or small tree indigenous to southern Africa, Grewia occidentalis. There it is commonly called Cross-berry, here, Lavender Star Flower. Ran across a related blog post from Ross, a designer in Durban.

Then, wandering through Ross's posts of the past few weeks, I ran across this post, which gives a whole new meaning to "wildlife friendly gardening"! Sharing my garden quite unintentionally with occasional coyote -- attracted to small, four legged creatures -- attracted to various crops and/or other visiting critter. Thinking to do more to attract "wildlife." However, thankful I don't have to worry about how to or how not to attract black mambas!

In early morning, when out in my garden, this is as wild as it gets:

And, no, I don't live in a cage, but maybe I should!

In the narrow side yard, atop my block wall, between neighbors' wood fence and my garden gate , there is a passthrough just big enough for a 'possum and her family to quietly lumber through. Or, just big enough for a coyote to trot through when I startled him/her from hiding place behind raised bed, eyeing neighbor's cat meowing from my apple tree. Easy enough to slip back in the house for camera to catch the posing 'possum. Doubt I'll get a photo of a coyote in my garden any time soon, but I see plenty of evidence of their nightly visits.

In early evening, when I am often out in my garden, this is about as "wild" as it gets:

Photo above taken when I shared the last of my navel orange crop for the year, with my rear neighbors. Being a little sister, myself, I really appreciate the triumph of success after saying to myself... you want me to put that whole thing in my little mouth and smile? Are you nuts?

Thank you, neighbors! You are the best sports!