Recently, I had an opportunity to spend a few days in the Washington DC area, specifically in the Dupont Circle/Embassy Row area. What struck me, aside from the beautifully restored and maintained buildings, was the abundance of trees lining the streets. Not pitiful little wanna-be trees, but massive trees of a variety of type, all of their canopies intermingled, providing much needed shade as we walked the busy streets.
When my family and I first moved to Old Towne, there was a huge pecan tree in the parkway in front of our house. It provided a lot of shade, as well as housed the occasional gangs of parrots and crows, fighting over the pecans. Of course it also littered the sidewalk, the yard, the street, and the cars with the oily seedpods and what seemed like millions of leaves that fell until the end of December. And when the Santa Ana winds blew at night, it magnified the sound of the wind such that we were sure that the house was going to "Wizard of Oz" on us and we'd wind up somewhere other than Orange! But the winds took their toll and eventually the tree started to lean. While I was at work one day, the City decided to euthanize the old tree, and when I returned home it was nothing but a pile of branches in my front yard. It was kind of sad, as that tree was such a defining feature of the streetscape.
The City came out a planted a new tree -- a liquid amber -- and we watered and fed it feverishly so that it would grow as fast as possible. It's actually grown quite quickly, and is now beginning to provide a little bit of the shade that the old pecan tree provided so effortlessly. Now I wish that the City would leave the little tree alone and let it grow out into, well, a tree! For some reason each time they come to trim it they want to make it look like a giant asparagus! They refuse to let it grow "out", to spread its canopy like the beautful street trees in Washington DC (or locally, Floral Park and Park Santiago). We've lost 3 or 4 additional trees on our block that have not been replaced since we've lived here -- and it makes a difference -- so better an "asparagus tree" than nothing, I suppose!
If you've lost a tree, (or never had a tree) in front of your house, call the City of Orange today and have them plant one for you -- it's free! And if you want a head start, for a couple of hundred dollars, they'll plant a larger tree, which may give you a head start on the whole tree-growing, shade, parrot-roosting experience!
Tony Trabucco is a real estate broker who lives in Old Towne Orange, CA