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

Tree Planting Success!Albert's Tree with color

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 breakfast 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 occasion.
  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. Someday I hope that these young people will come back and visit the trees they planted and smile.

Irvington Friends of Trees 2012 Planting – March 10th!

Friends of TreesFriends 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 https://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 neighborhood coordinator for Irvington, Portland, Oregon, United States, Earth:  Albert Kaufman

1.26.2021 – Check out a recent Ten Spiders show

Irvington Tree Planting – March 12, 2011

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!

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