Category Archives: Urban trees
The tree grew so well, the space available to it became a little congested. At the top of the tree (which, I would guess, is about two feet high) leaves would rise above road level, only to be sheered off by the tyres of cars running over it. It isn’t a busy street so leaves would have time to grow and poke up — but they never lasted.
Have you ever seen a photo of a newborn mammal? The way the light shines through the pink flesh, through the transparent eyelids and through the doughy snouts, a field of stars shining through every new finger and toe?
It shines through the new leaves in the same way.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the leaves…
The locavore and livable cites movements have found common cause in Seattle, according to TakePart:
Seattle’s vision of an urban food oasis is going forward. A seven-acre plot of land in the city’s Beacon Hill neighborhood will be planted with hundreds of different kinds of edibles: walnut and chestnut trees; blueberry and raspberry bushes; fruit trees, including apples and pears; exotics like pineapple, yuzu citrus, guava, persimmons, honeyberries, and lingonberries; herbs; and more. All will be available for public plucking to anyone who wanders into the city’s first food forest.
“This is totally innovative, and has never been done before in a public park,” Margarett Harrison, lead landscape architect for the Beacon Food Forest project, tells TakePart. Harrison is working on construction and permit drawings now and expects to break ground this summer.
Eric Jaffe, writing in the online news magazine The Atlantic Cities (a spin-off of what used to be called The Atlantic Monthly), reports on the findings of a new study in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.
Using aerial photographs to compare changes over time in 20 major U.S. cities, researchers David Nowak and Eric Greenfield of the U.S.D.A. Forest Service found that tree coverage is on the decline, while impervious cover — roads, buildings, sidewalks, and the like — is on the rise:
Tree cover in 17 of the 20 analyzed cities had statistically significant declines in tree cover, while 16 cities had statistically significant increases in impervious cover. … City tree cover was reduced, on average, by about 0.27 percent/yr, while impervious surfaces increased at an average rate of about 0.31 percent/yr.
Nowak and Greenfield collected recent digital aerial images for at least 1,000 random points in 20 large American cities, and coupled them with images at the same points from roughly 5 years earlier. Trained photo interpreters then classified the various types of coverage at each point: tree coverage, grass coverage, building coverage, and so on.
Their subsequent analysis showed clear trends away from tree coverage and toward impervious coverage. All but three of the cities had a statistically significant loss in tree coverage, with two others showing a non-significant loss (essentially no change). Houston (3 percent) and Albuquerque (2.7 percent) suffered some of the biggest loses. Only Syracuse showed a gain in tree coverage — and that of 1 percent.
Evidently in pre-digital days, landscape architects would use rubber stamps to add trees to blueprints. Tom Turner at Gardenvisit.com shares “a scan of a very high-class set of tree stamps” which, as one commenter aptly put it, looks like a box of tree chocolates. It’s almost too cool for words.
A Cape Cod, Massachusetts-based tree care company called Forest Keepers maintains a blog of Tree Care Tips separate from their business site with lots of interesting posts. Their latest, “Tree preservation in Concord,” describes an all-too-common situation: three large sugar maples struggle on a new construction site. The builder wants to do the right thing but waited till rather late in the game to call an arborist, and soil compaction, damaged soil chemistry and mechanical damage have all taken a toll. What to do? Read the post to learn how the Forest Keepers responded.
It’s not a blog post, but we like this photo exhibition at Garden Design website: “Landslide: Every Tree Tells a Story.”
In 2010, The Cultural Landscape Foundation and American Photo magazine, with support from The Davey Tree Expert Company and American Forests, created an original traveling exhibition about the irreplaceable trees and tree groupings—often associated with historically important people and events—that have shaped the development of communities and cultures, many of which are at risk.
As a media sponsor of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Garden Design is proud to share the beautiful photographs and accompanying stories that are on display in the 2010 Landslide: Every Tree Tells a Story exhibition.
Clayton Bell is “an environmental hydrogeologist in Houston, Texas who is obsessed with growing fruit trees,” and his blog The Bell House is the latest addition to our linkroll of blogs about trees and forests. He blogs about pomegranates, Japanese lemons, trifoliate orange trees, how to root fig cuttings, and more. His latest post, “Squat Orchard,” describes how he started a pecan plantation on a vacant lot.
I planted the trees approximately 35 feet apart along the northern edge of the lot where they should be fairly out of the way. It also looks like water from the nearby homes drains to that area, which will be big plus if we have another brutally dry summer. I placed a 3-gallon pot with the bottom cut out around each tree to protect the trunk, and marked them with orange pin flags, small t-posts with some orange flag tape, and metal tags with the variety names. I’m hoping that this will be enough to keep the mowers that come around every couple of months from cutting them down. If I can fool the mowers into thinking that those trees are supposed to be there, then the trees’ chances of survival will be that much better. I’m going to go back later and add some printed labels with an official sounding name, for a little extra insurance.
Urban tree news: Pittsburgh’s master plan, San Francisco street trees on their own, and the eucalopalypse
There’s some big news about urban forestry coming out of Pittsburgh and San Francisco over the past two weeks.
- An organization called Tree Pittsburgh is at work on that city’s first ever Urban Forest Master Plan, and is now soliciting public input. Since a majority of the city’s trees are privately owned, public buy-in will critical.
- As of last week, San Francisco’s Department of Public Works is no longer responsible for the city’s 23,000 street trees. Their maintenance and upkeep costs are now up to local residents.
- And also in San Francisco, the long-simmering battle over the fate of the thousands of non-native, invasive eucalyptus trees is heating up. What’s a tree-hugger to do when entire regions become taken over by trees with low value for native wildlife species?
Thanks, by the way, to Georgia Silvera Seamans at the local ecologist blog for sending these (and many other recent links) my way.
Continuing with today’s theme of almost-fresh tree news from New York City, a friend sent me this link to a blog post from something called the BMW Guggenheim Lab about a poem trail through an old-growth forest in the New York Botanical Garden. I thought at first this might be hyperbole, but the Wikipedia bears it out: “Sightseers can easily spend a day admiring the serene cascade waterfall, wetlands and a 50-acre (20 ha) tract of original, old-growth New York forest, never logged, containing oaks, American beeches, cherry, birch, tulip and white ash trees — some more than two centuries old.”
Anyway, it seems that they recently finished refurbishing the trails through this tract, and asked artist Jon Cotner, the author of the piece, to “do something poetry-related on site” in conjuction with the Poetry Society of America. He wanted something that would actively engage visitors and lead them to pay closer attention to the forest around them.
So I “installed” 15 lines pulled from 2,500 years of poetry along a trail through the old-growth forest. Visitors spoke each line (printed on a handout) at specific locations (marked by small orange signs) to which the lines corresponded conceptually or physically. For example, near the start of the self-guided walk, people would recite Pythagoras’s maxim “The wind is blowing; adore the wind” to clear their heads. Or just as the Bronx River came into view, people would recite Gary Snyder’s verse “Under the trees/ under the clouds/ by the river” to grow closer to the landscape. At the final spot, above a waterfall, people said Ch’u Ch’uang’s “Waterfalls, with a sound/ Like rain” to sharpen the auditory sensation.
Walking Poem Forest took about 20 minutes. Several participants had long histories with the Garden. They felt surprised by how intimately they encountered a landscape that had seemed “familiar” or “known.” A bench near the waterfall became an informal classroom, where we discussed their experience. The overwhelming message was that the poetic lines encouraged everyone to slow down, to see and sense more clearly, to inhabit the present more deeply, and to fill with enchantment.
The post includes photos of each spot, evidently taken in November, paired with the corresponding quote. There’s also an audio compliation of visitors reading the lines. Pretty cool!