Guest Post: At the Root: Trees Rule

At the Root: Trees Rule

By Guest Blogger: Eileen Stark, Portland, Oregon

     Although the region’s unique wetlands and grasslands carry the greatest diversity of species, it is the forests that dominate and most distinctly characterize the Pacific Northwest. Structurally complex, dense, and immense ecosystems, forests sustain trees that substantially outgrow and outlive other plants and tolerate temperature variation and soil differences better. When the first European settlers arrived, conifers covered nearly the entire landscape of western British Columbia and Washington, and northwestern Oregon–from coast to Cascade crest–including the Puget Trough and parts of the Georgia Basin and Willamette Valley.Real Gardens Grow Natives
     These conifers (and other dominant species) are known as keystone species because of their strong and often unique effects on their ecosystem. Though they are greatly outnumbered by smaller plants in the forest, their contributions are mammoth. Cool, wet winters and mild, dry summers, along with rich soils, have made for optimum evergreen growing conditions.
     Conifers are able to photosynthesize during much of the year and are essential for watershed stabilization. Some species are the most massive on earth, often growing over 200 feet tall and living for more than 500 years. Worldwide, conifers represent the largest terrestrial “carbon sink,” where carbon is packed away in plant tissue above and below ground. The wettest forests–those on the west side of coastal mountain ranges–were once especially complex, with lush layering and much variation in tree age. Logging has eliminated much of the original, most productive old-growth forests, and massive clearcutting has resulted in severe fragmentation. Today, much forested land is “second growth” that has followed logging and wildfire.
     Garry oak (or Oregon White oak) ecosystems, where these oaks grow naturally, have become rare, with only a very small percentage remaining. The loss of these unique ecosystems puts all the species that rely on them in jeopardy, and indeed, some species have already been lost, while many of the remaining are at risk. If you live on land that was once part of a Garry oak ecosystem and are starting with a blank slate, consider planting Garry oaks and associated species like madrone (Arbutus menziesii), oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), and baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa). If your site is too small for large trees, grow the smaller associated species in a meadowlike garden or rock garden. Spring ephemerals include white fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum), Henderson’s shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), and camas (Camassia quamash). Mid-bloomers include tiger lily (Lilium columbianum), nodding onion (Allium cernuum), stonecrop (Sedum spp.), harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), and western columbine (Aquilegia formosa); for late blooms try yarrow (Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis), showy fleabane (Erigeron speciosus), and goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).
     Most yards can support more trees, whether evergreen or deciduous, than they do. If you have the space, grow large trees–the oaks, the pines, the firs–that are quintessential to our region and will help replace some of the habitat that has been lost to development and logging. Just one Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) will provide dense shelter and nesting sites for various birds and small mammals, bark that can be used as nesting material, food for seed-eating birds and browsing mammals, and, as the trees mature, cavities for roosting and cavity-nesting birds.
     In urban areas, street trees that grow in parking strips could be native species (as well as the other plants you grow there). Some good choices for narrow parking strips (not less than 4 feet wide) include cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), Douglas maple (Acer glabrum), and black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), and for wider strips (greater than 6 feet wide) and without overhead utility wires, Garry oak (Quercus garryana), and Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia). Always check with your city’s urban forestry office before planting.
Excerpt from Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant, & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden by Eileen M. Stark (Mountaineers Books, 2014)

 

Tree Planting Success 2012

 

We had a great tree planting in Irvington, Sabin, Grant Park, and Alameda neighborhoods last weekend (March 10, 2012). thanks are in order! Here are some of the folks we want to thank!

  1. Friends of Trees Staff – esp. Jesse Batty and Erica Timm – for leading the charge and making the event go so smoothly.
  2. Eric McClelland and Marai Boamod – who drove the rental truck to Molalla and back and picked up our trees!
  3. To our fabulous local businesses who donated food and drink for the breakast and lunches: Whole Foods, Helen Bernhard Bakery, Costello’s Travel Caffe, Caffe D’arte, Peet’s Coffee on NE Broadway, Kettleman’s Bagels
  4. To the Holladay Park Church of God which has housed the event 2 years in a row. thank you!
  5. To our 150 volunteers who gather early on a Saturday morning and head out into the day and planted the trees – thanks for your labor and generous spirit!
  6. To neighbors who made food and donated food – the soups and chilis and stews were delicious, thank you!
  7. To Holli Talkington who photographed our day!
  8. The members of the band: Ten Spiders – we loved your music! Ten Spiders is available for hire – a great addition to just about any occation.
  9. To Alan Rahi and his partner Mira Eng-Goetz for designing and printing over 150 shirts for us! If you didn’t pick yours up it is probably waiting for you at the Friends of Trees office.
  10. To my fellow neighborhood coordinators: Lisa, Malcha, and Neil, who do a lot of behind the scenes work to make the planting go well – esp. including picking up the food donations and calling in utility locations.

I’m sure there are more people to thank, please feel free to add them into the comment section.  And, I’ll add more pictures here as they come in!  Thanks everyone for your help in adding to Portland’s canopy.

This year’s planting featured the volunteer effort of many young people.  I’ve never seen that many young people volunteering together before – it was impressive. Some day I hope that these young people will come back and visit the trees they planted and smile.

Events

Here are some upcoming events I’d love you to come participate in that I’m organizing. If you have any energy to volunteer for any of these, please let me know at albertkaufman@gmail.com

events1. Saturday, January 28th – house concert with Jonah Matranga from California.  8pm – $10-ish donation-style, good times for all. Hear Jonah’s music @

2. Monday, February 20th, 7:30pm.  Mother: Caring for the 7 Billion – showing at the Hollywood Theater with discussion about film.  – Free – http://motherthefilm.com

3. Saturday/Sunday March 3-4 10am-5pm – SE ArtwalkWileyware (earrings, glassware, candleholders, buttons and Marcia Wiley in person!) showing at KORU House, 1704 SE 22nd, More information about the art walk at http://www.seportlandartwalk.com/

4. Saturday, March 10th, 8:30am-1pm – Friends of Trees Tree planting – Irvington.  Meet at Holliday Park Church of God at 21st and Tillamook, NE.  Music by the Ten Spiders, bring blank t-shirts and tote bags for silk-screening.  Breakfast and lunch provided – and are usually both very hearty! More info at http://albertideation.com/2011/10/21/irvington-friends-of-trees-2012-planting-coming-soon/

4. Saturday, March 25th, 7pm – House Concert with Dana Lyons at the Happy Clam, 7pm  Also featuring discussion by local anti-corporate activist Paul Cienfuegos

Hope your Winter is going well!  Stay warm and dry!

Albert 

Irvington Friends of Trees 2012 Planting – March 10th!

Friends of Trees

Our planting day is Saturday March 10, 2012 and we’ll again be hosted by the Holladay Park Church of God at Tillamook and 21st Ave NE. starting at 8:30AM.  We are looking for volunteers to plant trees and donations of delicious food for our work crews.  If you’d like more information or would like to volunteer, please contact me at albertkaufman@gmail.com

T-shirts! This year we’ve hired a designer, Alan Rahi, who has made a special image just for this planting and we’ll be silk-screening at the event. Bring your t-shirts and canvas/cloth shopping bags and put a tree on it! Also, during lunchtime music will be performed by local artists, Ten Spiders.

 

For a variety of reasons I am encouraging people to plant fruit and nut trees in their yards and planting strips. This will increase the amount of food we’re providing for ourselves and other species and bring our community together as we harvest food with and for one another. Visit the Portland Fruit Tree Project‘s website for more information.

This year the City of Portland is offering a treebate to those who qualify.  Find out more at http://pdx.be/treebate

Thanks to everyone who volunteered for our fantastic Irvington tree planting last March in 2011. Between us and the other 3 nearby neighborhoods we planted 212 trees. I mention this because for anyone wanting to join us in our next planting, the time to order trees is now and the website to order from is: https://friendsoftrees.org/order-street-and-yard-trees

Happy Winter moving into Spring,

Your canopy-loving Friends of Trees neigborhood coordinator for Irvington, Portland, Oregon, United States, Earth:  Albert Kaufman

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