Today was day 3 of our monumental 4 day volunteer-driven street tree inventory. Most of the morning was pleasantly cool, following many weeks of extreme heat. I am pretty sure the trees perked up to be measured this morning in the mist.
Today Tree Buds noted a few particularly happy tree species.
The Evergreen Oregon Myrtle/California Laurel tree were glossy and gorgeous. Crush their leaves for a wonderful bay smell, and, yes, you can cook with this native. You will need a wider strip to plant one because the base of the trunk get very wide. They are a great shorter tree for a curb with overhead power lines.
Harlequin Glory Bower was a real show stopper. Crush the leaves, and you will smell peanut butter. Its white flowers are sweet and fragrant right now. In fall, they bare bright blue fruits surrounded by fuchsia bracts (featured image above). However, if you decide to plant one, be ready to care for it regularly for a couple years because it needs a lot of water to get started.
A few volunteers found a gorgeous young Aspen (Pictured to left!). People stopped planting them in Portland because stock suffered from a fungal / black spot disease in the winter, but clones from Northern Idaho are available today. If you are a fan of white barked trees and fall color, this tree requires a lot of water and maintenance. You will need a root barrier (as with bamboo) to contain root suckers and protect sewer lines. Root suckers can sprout withing 30 feet of the main tree. Also never plant it under a power line It grows tall and fast!
We were also met by numerous neighbors with concerns:
- Public Right of Way increasingly absorbed by neighbors and commercial businesses.
- Fencing unimproved streets, despite clear corner markers and main utility lines underground.
- Trees planted in sidewalk area in front of random lots without sidewalks forcing pedestrians and kids into street.
- Fences run to the curb crossing sidewalk to prevent walkers in public right of way.
- Intentional over-planting with large trees to block public right of way in front of homes with missing tracts of sidewalk.
- Planting over-sized trees on property boundaries that raise a neighbors’ sidewalk.
- Trees planted years ago by previous owners, that are too large for narrow spaces. Current property owners feel threatened by the new tree code requiring a paid permit to remove, costly tree services to pull out, and inability to replace the tree financially. These property owners shared that they repave sidewalks repeatedly, due to the high cost and trouble of removal. They were upset by volunteers collecting data on curb width and tree species, due to concerns that the the City would force removal/replacement with fines one they had data.
If you have these concerns you are not alone. These issues have been repeated each workday. Yes, some of the canopy in the public right of way is not entirely healthy. Yes, issues above present safety issues now and into future.
There are public channels to address code/safety/right of way issues. The Tree Buds aren’t that channel, but we will be drawing up a neighborhood tree plan this winter with the City in an effort to attract funding and improve tree care education, to improve our canopy via voluntary action, because a healthy tree canopy has massive benefits.
The Tree Buds are happy to point you in the right direction with concerns and invite input. If your interest is piqued by this post, please shoot us an email or drop your questions below.