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)

 

Oxygen

Plant Trees – Leave Trees Standing – For better health for all living beings

Humans and other species thrive on oxygen. Trees and other plants create oxygen. So, you’d think if we wanted to live long, healthy lives and save other species – we’d plant as many trees as possible. Big trees also give off more oxygen than young trees – so, leaving big trees standing also makes sense for oxygen production.  the-tunnel-of-trees

If you’ve ever been in a plant store or the middle of a forest you know how good it feels to be breathing higher concentrations of oxygen.

So, for greater planetary health and better longevity – plant trees whenever possible and work to stop trees from being cut down everywhere.  The End


Well, not exactly. So, the thoughts above came from me mulling over a friend who has a tree in her front yard and two trees in her planting strip out front. She’s got yellow tags circling all three – and mentioned that the 2 trees in the planting strip are not well and that the big tree out front threatens her house.

Here’s where my mind goes.

  1. The trees in the planting strip – The City mentioned that she wouldn’t get permitted to have 2 trees there, and so if she replants she’ll only get to plant 1 tree. I didn’t look closely at the trees – but will encourage her to feed the trees and take care of them and see if she can keep them going. They are about 10 feet tall and possibly could grow much taller.  Every street tree adds to shade, oxygen, traffic calming, bird habitat, property value increase (I think it’s $10K per tree).
  2. The big tree in the middle of the lawn – the shade to the house in the Summer (the past couple summers in Portland have been incredibly hot) – probably reduces heating bills and glare + the other attributes mentioned above. Yes, there are costs to owning trees – pruning, caring for the tree.
  3. One thing that most people don’t think about is the whole canopy – the trees covering Portland and what the cumulative effect of many trees has on our lives. IMHO, the more trees the better = more oxygen. It’s also a beauty thing. I’m looking out a 2nd story window right now across the roofline of SE Portland and there are many trees. Remove one and you remove beauty for someone who is used to seeing your tree. + Autumn Leaves.

I hope you’ll reconsider when you think about removing a tree for some good reason. Tree companies who come out to talk trees make money from tree removal. The Urban Forestry folks at the City of Portland are also not in the business of keeping trees standing and we’re losing Portland’s canopy at an alarming rate. Mature trees are Biocarbon Heavyweights.

If you’re interested in this topic – we have a group on Facebook organized to keep tall trees standing. As well as an email list for this topic. Thanks for your consideration.

Oh, and plant trees (see above) – fruit trees, nut trees, shade trees – Friends of Trees is a great place to start.

Here’s to your health and our planet’s health.

moratorium on tree cutting in portland

3.19.18: Eileen writes: “Yes and don’t forget about carbon sequestration. And that regional native trees provide more food and other habitat for wildlife.”

Irvington Tree Planting – March 12, 2011

[slideshow]
Tree planting 3.12.11 Irvington, Portland, Oregon, USA!

We had a great day planting trees with Friends of Trees on Saturday, March 13th. Starting with our breakfast at the Holladay Park Church early in the morning through a delicious lunch held after the planting – supplied by residents of the Irvington, Grant, Sabin and Alameda neighborhoods.

I want to thank the following people and businesses for their support in our efforts.

Friends of Trees – especially Jesse Batty and Erica Timm who led the day of planting

The neighborhood coordinators for each neighborhood

Neil Davidson – Alameda
Lisa Johnston-Smith – Sabin
Angela Gusa – Grant Park
Albert Kaufman – Irvington

Holladay Park Church – our wonderful host!
Helen Bernhard Bakery – baked goods
Caffee D’arte – Coffee
Starbucks on 15th & B’way – Coffee and more Coffee
Grand Central Bakery – pastries, yum
Costello’s Travel Caffee – pastries, more yum!
Penske Trucks – truck donation
Eric McClelland – Treeform Woodwork – drove to Boring and back to pick up our trees
City of Portland – Bureau of Environmental Services – a huge hand in many ways
Backyard Bird Shop – our main sponsors!

I could write a novella about the task of being a neighborhood coordinator for this event. It’s full of contacting neighbors, reaching out to businesses and interacting with the great staff at Friends of Trees. And, I enjoyed the fun of planting trees even more. Working with great crew leader, Karen, and crew assistant, David, we walked in a 5 block circle and planted 11 trees in 3 hours. This involved pulling the trees out of the truck, unwrapping each, making sure holes were the right size, involving homeowners and their kids, filling the holes in with dirt, and watering and staking them.

It was a rainy day, but our spirits were high. And when we returned to the basecamp, there were all of the other volunteers and crew leaders sitting down to a well-deserved bountiful lunch of soups, chilis, stews, bread, salads and deserts. It was a great time to swap stories, share smiles, and make some new friends beyond the crew that you’d been assigned to.

All in all, I’d say the day was a complete success. We planted 182 trees together and another 30 were planted the following Monday, bringing us to a grand addition of 212 trees for our 4 neighborhoods. These trees will add to the canopy of our neighborhoods – help reduce the amount of water going into the stormwater drains, shade us in the summer, provide us fruit and nuts, look beautiful, increase property values, and increase the safety of our neighborhoods.

If you didn’t get a chance to join us, please consider volunteering with Friends of Trees and see what fun it can be to plant trees in Portland. Also, Friends of Trees is a membership organization and I encourage you to become a member today. They do great work that makes our City more livable and our lives healthier and happier.

friends of trees

One happy tree planter!

Join the Irvington Neighborhood Tree Planting on March 12th, 2011!

tree plantingIn partnership with Friends of Trees, the Irvington, Alameda, Sabin and Grant neighborhoods are planting trees on Saturday, March 12, 2010! Join us at 8:30am at the Holladay Park Church at 2120 NE Tillamook Street to meet friends and create a healthier community! In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to come together and build our community through our relationships and shared efforts to make our neighborhoods healthier.

For our planting we would appreciate hearing ASAP from anyone with a pick-up truck we can borrow for the day, potluck dishes to arrive at the church around 12pm for lunch for our volunteers; and neighbors who would like to help plant trees. Gloves, shovels and all necessary tools will be provided by Friends of Trees. Young people are especially welcome to join us.

Please contact Albert Kaufman at irvington@plantitportland.org to volunteer for this year’s planting or to start thinking about how we can complete our green canopy over Irvington in 2012. I am particularly interested in seeing us move from lawns to gardens and am all for us planting lots more fruit trees to increase our local foodshed! For more information about Friends of Trees, please visit http://friendsoftrees.org