Sunday, February 22, 2009
Too Late to Hug These Trees
The photo is of a not-nearly-mature Ficus retusa nitida on Milpas Street in Santa Barbara.
Please don't hug these evil trees. Don't shed a tear. Kill them now while you have a chance. I just read in the Sunday L.A. Times a little blurb about folks getting up in arms about the removal of some mature Ficus (species name not included) trees along Colorado Blvd. That's the street where they hold the Rose Parade. I'm going to assume that these are Indian Laurel Fig (F. retusa nitida) and they never should have been planted in these spots. The tree is a monster. We're having the same debate here in Santa Barbara, but the issue goes all the way back to someone making a decision to put the wrong plant in the wrong place.
This tree gets huge and like any Ficus I've ever met, has aggressive surface roots. Perhaps all the arborists in Southern California should have done their homework in the 60s when thousands upon thousands of these beasts were unleashed in little planters along streets. They seemed to have a lot going for them in the hot summer climate of SoCal: fast growing, don't need water once established, dense shade. The problem is, given their ultimate size (I've seen them as tall as 80 ft. and about 50 ft. wide), they have no business on city streets, planted as property line hedges or tucked into little condo patios.
If I had a time machine I'd go back four decades and:
1) prevent them from ever being planted by throwing my body in front of the landscape crews;
2) buy a plane ticket for Pasadena's arborist to go to Malaysia and see how big these suckers get;
2) make a public spectacle of the wholesale nursery industry who promulgated the tree on hundreds of cities and private property owners without clearly warning them of the potential harm;
3) convince the powers that be to gradually start rotating out every other tree decades ago, so the impact of clear cutting wouldn't be as emotional;
4) Invest more of my personal income in gold (but that has nothing to do with this post, so kindly ignore what I just typed).
But now it's too late. Wanna save the trees? Sell your car, tear up the streets and sidewalks and let the trees grow in their natural way. While you're at it, move your water and sewer lines. Not likely. But as a public employee who shows up every day, puts on his "Kick Me" sign and dunce cap and waits for citizens to tell me "You don't know what yo're doing or you'd have a 'real job'" I can empathize with what the dudes and dudettes in Pasadena are wading through (hint - it smells very organic).
And it never stops. I just ranted about this in my last blog post and will likely continue, so I'll spare you any more. I want to bury a big time capsule somewhere with a butt-load of "I told you sos." But there are a bunch of Ficus roots in the way and I don't feel like digging a big hole right now.