July 21, 2009

Huggin' My Tree

We moved to Poway in July, some thirty-odd-years ago. It was as miserably hot and humid back then as it is now. The house was brand new and the yard was bare dirt. The week after we moved in we went to the store and purchased a tree and a Sunset Western Garden Book. We still have both of them.

The tree, according to the book, was a Liquidambar styraciflu, also known as American sweet gum tree. I wanted a tree that was deciduous and would have some autumn color. And some shade.

According to the book, young Liquidambers were "christmas tree" shaped, forming a canopy in their more mature years. A couple of years after we planted it, it was big enough and strong enough for the kids to climb up the trunk and pretend they were monkeys.
Eventually, our tree did form a canopy. Our tree now shades most of our western facing windows and a good portion of the back yard. Every July, I fall in love with my tree again. I forgive it for dropping hundreds of "corker balls" on the deck, in the grass and among all the other plants. I forget about having to rake up all the leaves, or prune the voracious roots that suck the life out of competing plants. The $600 I once spent to have the tree pruned when the canopy got too big and branches were breaking off seems worth it now. Every July, I remember why I love this tree so much.

Last week, my husband and I stopped by the Poway Library. The courtyard is uncovered and it has little protection against the seering heat. For the most part, the courtyard was empty. Nobody sat at one of the scattered tables. Nobody sat by the little water feature. One person lingered on a bench that was against a wall shaded by the building. But to be honest, that person was me.

While I was sitting on the bench, I noticed 2 liquidamber trees in pots near the entrance to the library meeting room. These trees have been here for a while- at least a year or two. I have pictures of them from last winter. Liquidambers are not typically grown in pots. Their roots need lots of room to expand. These pots are positioned over grates that look like they were intended for planting trees in the ground. Did someone forget about these trees? C'mon, tree-city-people get those liquidambers in the ground. Thirty-some years from now, you will be glad you did.

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