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Natives Take Root at Our City Forest's New Native Garden

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Natives Take Root at Our City Forest's New Native Garden

Our City Forest is proud to present the newest addition to our parcel at Martial Cottle Farm Park, a California Native Garden. This garden showcases seven of California’s most common ecosystems by grouping native shrubs together based on their typical habitat. The goal of this garden is to educate visitors about native plants/ecosystems, and provide them with inspiration for using natives in their own landscape!

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23 of Our Trees Were Cut Down: What Now?

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23 of Our Trees Were Cut Down: What Now?

We lost 23 trees last week. They were saplings, planted only months ago. They were yew pines, chinese fringes. Their holes were dug by more than one hundred volunteers and led by AmeriCorps members. They were bought with money provided by San Jose, by Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio. They were grown in our nursery, tended to by our volunteers, by school groups and dedicated AmeriCorps members. These trees took time, effort and cooperation to raise. They took money, community investment and muscle to put into the ground. They took dedication to tend on our weekly watering runs. In a way, these trees were representations of us, as a community. If they had been allowed to continue growing they would have provided shade, flowers and air-cleaning to a hot and busy street. 

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What is Our City Forest?

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What is Our City Forest?

Our City Forest is a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating a green and healthy Silicon Valley by engaging the community in the protection, growth and maintenance of our urban ecosystem, with special focus on our urban forest.

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Happy Arbor Day!

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Happy Arbor Day!

We’re taking a breather on the Our City Forest blog, a breather from science and botany. It’s time for celebration. Arbor Day is tomorrow (as fellow tree nerds I’m sure you all have it marked on your calendars)! It’s a time to plant and care for trees!

The first Arbor Day in the United States, 1872 Nebraska City ( source )

The first Arbor Day in the United States, 1872 Nebraska City (source)

In the United States, Arbor Day has been celebrated since 1872. It was the brainchild of pioneer, journalist and former Secretary of the Nebraska Territory, Julius Sterling Morton. Morton was fascinated with agriculture and trees in particular. On his estate, now the Arbor Lodge State Park, he cultivated 270 varieties of trees and shrubs including apple orchards, oaks, chestnuts and pines. Morton, using his extensive political and journalistic connections to promote Arbor Day as holiday of tree planting and care. It was a rolicking sucess, attracting thousands of participants across the young state of Nebraska, prizes were offered for the most trees planted by teams or couples. In all it is estimated that a million trees were planted on that day. The wild success of the project led to interstate and national adoption of Arbor Day as a holiday.

While Morton’s Arbor Day was the first of its kind in the United States it was not the first Arbor Day-type celebration ever held. It’s thought that the first Arbor Day celebration took place in the 1594 in the small Spanish village of Mondoñedo. The orchard of lime and chestnut trees has been continuously maintained until now. The Spanish also celebrated the first “modern” Arbor Day in 1805. In quaint, picturesque Villanueva de la Serra a local priest, Ramón Vacas Roxo, organized a village-wide tree planting festival. In the shadow of the Napoleonic Wars, the feasting and planting lasted three days. In three years the Spain would be invaded by Napoleon and the countryside torn apart in guerrilla warfare.

 Villanueva de la Serra, the birthplace of modern Arbor Day ( source ) 

 Villanueva de la Serra, the birthplace of modern Arbor Day (source

Both of these early Arbor Day celebrations can help us understand the purpose of planting trees. Arbor Day, unlike other holidays is not about remembering the past or a religious occasion, Arbor Day is about showing concern for the future. Trees are one of the few things that get bigger and better with age (wine and cheese notwithstanding). Trees grow for generations, providing shade, fruit, erosion control and habitat for many decades if not hundreds of years. Arbor Day, like Earth Day, is a celebration of the future, an act of hope and care in an uncertain world. In war-torn Spain the people of Villanueva continued to plant trees for the future. When Morton held his Arbor Day it was seven years after the Civil War. Over one third of eligible, Nebraskan fought for the Union. In both cases, whether under the shadow of imminent invasion or in the aftermath of war, the act of planting a tree was radically hopeful.

That hope is something we should keep in mind this Arbor Day. The environmental news might be grim. Politics might be a terrifying circus. War, terrorism, poverty and disease still cause millions of people harm. But we’re not in a Young Adult Dystopian Sci-Fi. We’re not trapped in The Sprawl. Skynet hasn’t gone active. This isn’t the Los Angeles of Bladerunner.

The world hasn’t ended.

For all our pessimistic fiction and real-world tragedy the world hasn’t ended yet. We have problems to face and fix. On Arbor Day let's engage in a radical act of hope. Let’s us all plant a tree for ourselves and for the people we hope to have follow us.


If you've enjoyed this or our other blog posts please consider donating to Our City Forest. If you agree with this post, we are having an Arbor Day Planting at Kelly Park. Everybody who volunteers with us gets a free tree from the Community Nursery. The nursery will be featuring face painting, games and other Arbor Day festivities.  

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Honoring a Tree Hero

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Honoring a Tree Hero

When we think of Dave Fadness, we think “volunteer extraordinaire” and “advocate for urban trees”.  Having worked with Dave for many years, I am lucky to be able to add “noble friend” to the long list of extraordinary attributes and gifts he so generously shared.  Dave passed recently, and need I say he will be greatly missed. 

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Save Your Trees - Heat Wave Watering Alert

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Save Your Trees - Heat Wave Watering Alert

Heat Wave Watering Alert!

Keep your Trees Alive with Water

Santa Clara County is projected to have temperatures in the high 90's the rest of this week. It's important to keep your newly planted trees watered during this time because they are more susceptible to withering than mature trees.


The best time to water is in the early morning before the heat sets in, but water as soon as possible if the leaves on your tree begin wilting. New trees need about 10-15 gallons of water. Check each day to see if the soil is still moist and if it is, you don't have to water at that time.

Applying mulch, such as wood chips, is an excellent way to protect your trees from heat waves. Mulch insulates the soil and keeps the ground temperature from rising too high. Without this layer of protection, especially during a heat wave, the high soil temperatures can kill the roots.

  • Mulching Tips: Lay a thick, 4-6 inch layer around your tree, beginning an inch away from the trunk. Ideally, this should extend to the edge of the canopy for maximum benefit.  


   Prioritize your plants!


1) Trees less than 3 years old should be the first priority. They are more susceptible to heat stress than mature trees, but they are also a long term investment and you don't want to have to start over from scratch. 

2) Any other newly planted landscape. Many people are planting drought-tolerant landscapes to do their part in conserving water. However, newly planted plants whether they are drought-tolerant or not, are still vulnerable to heat waves. Helping them get through this heat wave, will let them help you get through the drought!

3) Established Trees. Mature trees are much less likely to experience heat stress due to their more extensive root systems. However, with the drought extending into it's fourth yearit's not a bad idea to give them a good soaking about once a month.

4) Potted plants. Make sure to move your potted plants to a shady area and water them thoroughly. Potting soil will shrink when dry so double check to make sure the water is penetrating the soil and not just trickling down the side of the container.

5) What not to water: Lawns! Lawns should not be a priority because they can easily grow back and they provide far fewer benefits than trees. They are alsoextremely water intensive

 
Save your trees during these hot California days, REMEMBER TO WATER!

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Congrats Tree Amigos!

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Congrats Tree Amigos!

About a month ago, Our City Forest hosted a graduation for the class of super volunteers, the Tree Amigos. This mix of students, concerned residents, fans of trees and overall wonderful people took a month long course challenging their brains and arm muscles. They are now armed with the knowledge, the skills, and the passion to go out in our community and make a difference. We're beyond proud to graduate these new keepers of the Urban Forest. 

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