If you can’t plant a tree somewhere today, arbor day enthusiasts suggest taking stock of your own. Are they healthy? In need of a trim? Perhaps some fertilizer is in order.
Our suburban lot is about 6,000 square feet. The house occupies a third of that and what’s left includes the garden, a deck, a patio and a few trees. Three established trees grew in our backyard when we bought the house, but not a single tree out front. I started researching approved street trees before escrow even closed, and together my husband and I settled on a Chinese Pistache. The Pistache grows in the strip between the sidewalk and the street, perfectly situated for viewing from my home office and the kitchen.
After years of broken sidewalks, car damage and probably lawsuits, the city arborist requires well-behaved “street” trees. No invasive roots, no sticky sap to damage cars and they’ve banned Liquidambar styraciflua which toss down ankle-turning, stroller-jamming hard, dry fruit. They are lovely trees in the right setting, but not well suited curbside. No pip-squeaks either, which is to say, 15 gallon trees (at a minimum) when planted for safe traffic visibility.
We love our tree! In the first few years, we measured its growth, but eventually it grew too tall. We had boys by then, so all our attentions shifted down, as we measured their height in inches and eventually feet.
In the fall our tree turns multiple shades of amber, then quietly drops a blanket of leaves, so subtle they hardly need raking. We hang our singing skeleton from the branch to entertain passers-by around Halloween, and by winter the tree strips to its own skeletal form.
My youngest son loves climbing that tree and when it was dense with foliage, he once hid up there so he could drop down and surprise his unsuspecting friend. Last summer, he and a friend rigged a series of buckets and tubes and created an impromptu dunk tank, supported by the trees now-strong limbs.
If that tree could talk, it would have a story to tell. Have you hugged your favorite tree today?