Archive for the ‘Street trees’ Category

SAVANNAH STREET TREES

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

The general appearance of the Park or Square should be pleasing to the eye in all its approaches; its make-up so arranged as to give a changing variety in the different outlooks.  It is, therefore, a place to be relieved as much as possible from monotony and rigid lines.”

– An Examination of the Street and Park Trees of Savannah, Georgia, Park and Tree Commission, Savanna, Georgia,  Bulletin 1, Geo B. Sudworth, April, 1897

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Sabal palmetto

The beautiful city begins.

Along the street opposite city hall, Savannah, Georgia, the Sabal palmetto creates a formal planting worthy of an important city. Savannah   makes an impression on the American landscape that is imaginative and unforgettable.

Savannah, Georgia has survived and persevered. It has since preserved, conserved and restored a sense and vision of a city rarely glimpsed in the contemporary landscape, however Savannah was mostly preserved, and to walk through this city is a pleasure.

A vision was created and abided by for many years, a vision of public squares and trees. We oohed and awed at the architecture and the distinctly southern grandeur and refinement of taste; a blend of urbanism, gardening and public spaces- a graciousness rarely afforded in such splendor in other urban areas we have experienced- here it is, the panoramic of a storied city, this unforgettable, treed vista of understanding and conscious practice of arbor-culture that blends beautifully with the built and ever-so lived in city-scape.

The street trees of Savannah are often planted in a line, but are just as often found in the state of intersection, combined together telling a story of the favored trees of a particular era, the trees that have persisted, and even trees that were imported from other continents. Below is an assemblage of Live Oaks in the back-round, with Sabal palmetto in the foreground, mixed with the lower growing Butia capitata, the Pindo Palm – a South American import.  This lush greenery in a higher density neighborhood of row-houses with on street parking, all of which is highly coveted real-estate.

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The charm of brick sidewalks and streets has been preserved, providing a warm texture and color to the urban landscape.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

A row of Butia capitata, the South American Pindo Palms. Below, Isabelle poses with an Asian Magnolia blooming away down by the waterfront.

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Magnolia grandiflora
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Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

This is the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), planted as a street tree here in Savannah. Much can be said of this Grand Dame of  a native Magnolia. It is an evergreen giving even a dull February day some degree of distinction.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Note how much space is dedicated to the trees, still sharing with parking meters and telephone poles.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Much of Savannah retains the feel of a city with a residential quality, lots of porches, brick, walkability, with short blocks, all of them near squares. It could use a streetcar system to further enhance transportation and reduce auto traffic.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

This above, appears to be the Savannah Holly, Ilex attenuata ‘savannah’.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

And the Crepe Myrtle,  Lagerstroemia. Often planted along highway intersections and large commercial and industrial properties and strip malls throughout the South, we found this elegantly pruned row as a street tree. These specific specimens were trained in the multi-stemmed form of this Asian Tree/shrub.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Below, these Crepe Myrtles have been……Pollarded perhaps?  This is done to increase the flowering density, but at the expense of having to look at a butchered stub for the other half of the year.

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Here the Crepe Myrtles  are kept gracefully as a street tree.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

In the next few pictures we show the use of the Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) planted street-side.

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Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

On this block, there is more of a feeling of being in a forest than on a city block. The vegetation must contribute to cooler temperatures in the heat of the summer.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

From a distance, what appears to be the blooming Red Maple across the street. There is the possibility this specimen could be crossed with a Silver Maple.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Quercus virginiana

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

The Southern Live Oak (Quercus Virginiana) is the most iconic tree of Savannah, Georgia. The evergreen Live Oaks with their drooping, curvaceous branches, draped in Spanish moss create the most atmospheric Southern quality to Savannah’s streets and public squares.  The city planners may have had some to work with in the early layouts, but they also had to plant and design the city with these trees in mind, and now we get to enjoy them in their maturity.

These trees are the essence of the patina of age a city can inherit from the aesthetically minded and articulate city planners and engaged citizens who despised the monotony of thoughtless development and sought to nurture and create the iconic Savannah we can enjoy today.

Perhaps as the city expanded outwards  in the ever growing need for housing and the accommodations of business, land was being cleared for building, but the founding lawmakers, developers and owners had all experienced the qualities of this native tree on a piece of land; its shade in the summer and greenery in the winter; and perhaps they also saw them felled on city lots to be slated for development, or sold for ship-building as these trees provided excellent structural components for curves in the hulls of ships- and their loss, especially in the summer’s sun proved to be unforgettable: and the trees were soon kept in place or re-planted as saplings in the implemented planning of blocks , homes and public squares.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Always thinking even on holiday, exactly what is it that makes a beautiful, unforgettable city? There is no one answer, of course, because every city is in a different place, with a different geology, climate, and topography and history. For those who are working actively to improve their own cities and towns, neighborhoods and blocks, the same issues arise above the obvious ones of safety and comfort: walkability, sense of community, access to commerce and other communities. The sense that neighbors are looking out for each other or at least there are actually neighbors that may care about your well-being.

Public spaces that are actively utilized and are alive with the community. These are just some of the qualities of a functioning city, the city we want to live in. There are many manifestations of the utopian urban setting proposed and built, and Savannah has one that is quite pleasant and its aesthetic qualities of urban development and maintenance are worth considering.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Cities are becoming much more attractive places to live and work and more and more are people looking to cities as places to lay down roots, invest in property and become civically involved. As those of us who are getting into the issues of city living, owning your homes, and developing roots in your new neighborhoods, joining zoning committees, planning sessions, urban gardening or even doing city planning, we must see the cities that are beautiful and appeal to our senses, and see what they are composed of, like Savannah, Georgia.

Right now, cities like  our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are undergoing this transformation in some sections. There is a strong movement towards Philadelphia’s new urbanism, from a solid economic sense to a visionary idealistic desire, both of which are closing in on each other which is why Philadelphia is most definitely an important city to watch. Philadelphia’s sheer magnitude and population is relegated into a grid of row-houses that is oriented more in relation to its two rivers than strickly North-South. Its expansive park system is one of the largest in the world for a city of this size, and includes numerous squares and public spaces throughout with plans for more “micro parklets”.  It is also the lucky inheritor of an extensive public transportation system that includes trolleys and subways.  The new urbanism in Philadelphia is growing with city Planning in mind as well as gardening, urban farming, political activism, art, music, literature and  culture. All of this occurring side by side with an antiquated political system, vast wastelands of urban planning mishaps, some still on the drawing-boards , poverty and blight.

However, the infrastructure of what makes a beautiful city is in Philadelphia as well- if the houses were repaired in a sensitive manner and there were appropriately planted street trees that were cared for, like in Savannah. The row houses of Philadelphia, like in Savannah are everything that new urbanism requires: environmental viability in terms of efficiency, and the urban density that makes neighborhoods lively  but not overcrowded, buildings own-able and relatively easy to care for. Rowhouses also offer an opportunity for architectural splendor, most opportunities of this have been squandered since the 1950s, but there is plenty of intact housing stock left dating back to the 18th century. When walking the streets of Savannah it became increasingly apparent that these views of row-houses, generous porches and ample public  green spaces could be in Philly. Maybe what could be done with some of Philadelphia’s vast amounts of vacant land.

 

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

While Savannah and its street and park trees will always remain unique in its atmospheric qualities, history and aesthetic patina of culture and location, it is these very things that every city must embrace to re-establish themselves as livable places again. Often removing something that is awful and misplaced can help revive a once beautiful city, such as a highway.  San Francisco, already beautiful,  liberated its waterfront by removing a highway.  One day, NYC hopes to remove Madison Square Garden, a horrific 1960s stadium in the middle of the city.  Save what is there that creates a sense of place, and re-invent by looking at what works in the cities that are magnificent and iconic.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah has that sense of place. This is not accidental or an after effect of some other great series of events  beyond our control, rather it is a result of carefully thought-out plans and ideas, such as this one written in 1897  from An Examination of the Street and Park Trees of Savannah, Georgia:  

Parks and squares should be retreats supplying in parts cool shade as well as pleasing sights for the eye. Unlike the street trees, not all the park trees are to play the role of shade producers; some will be for shade, while some will serve only as elements in a total or partial beautifying effect

–  Park and Tree Commission, Savanna, Georgia,  Bulletin 1, Geo B. Sudworth, April, 1897

Each and every tree was considered thoughtfully.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.comt

So these painted shutters and elegantly preserved brick facades and stoops of these rowhouses work together with the Magnolia grandiflora and Quercus virginiana to create a view of this quintessentially southern mercantile city, one of whose charm was conceived of  and cultivated with the very intent to charm.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Quercus virginiana, bark and trunk.

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

 

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

 

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

 

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

Savannah Street Trees, www.thesanguineroot.com

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And lastly, we visit a brand new city, Suwannee, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. Here the developers embraced some of the ideas of the new urbanism and planned their community around row-houses grouped around public greens, newly planted with Quercus virginiana, the Live Oak, and named the green Savannah. These houses were situated adjacent to a commercial area designed to look like a typical Georgia town, surrounding a green. Here is a genuine decision to create a sense of place, with housing that can create a community alongside public space and walking distance from commercial interests. On top of that this community is located next to a huge park with over five miles of walking trails!

Suwannee, Georgia, housing development

Suwannee, Georgia, housing development. www.thesanguineroot.com

This new city lacks the patina of age, but it has all of the intentions of that sense of place! It is very instructional seeing pictures of newly -built developments whether it is in the 1890s or recently, the lack of trees or the small size of them. How much properly appointed and well thought-out plantings of trees contribute to the atmosphere of a city is astonishing. In a neighborhood with old majestic trees, one can benefit from such foresight and the shade and beauty; however likely there will be disappointment when these trees must be taken down inevitably, as such lamentations were expressed in the local Savannah papers about the removal of a dying but much -loved tree in one of the squares. In a contrasting light, the inhabitants of this new square Savannah get the pleasure of watching these Live Oaks grow.

Suwannee, Georgia. www.thesanguineroot.com

Suwannee, Georgia. www.thesanguineroot.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW YORK CITY STREET TREES

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Upper East Side of Manhattan

Upper East Side of Manhattan

OUR SUNDAY WALK FROM 102ND AND LEXINGTON AVE TO 77TH STREET AND YORK AVE  (FOR THE BEST CROISSANTS)

New York has famous trees, notably the American Elms of Central Park, found along the Mall, these trees are spared no expense, live in a posh area of town and are often photographed and admired.  Being American Elms, these cherished trees represent an age of the country lost through time and disease; The central Park Elm allee is a surviving remnant of the American main street, which at one time had a cathedral-like row of Elms gracing the town.  To see this Central Park row in person has the wow effect that was desired in these trees and an illustration of what was achieved in American towns before the blight.

The Elm allee is the aesthetic ideal of another time, one that was killed-off by the imported Dutch-Elm disease and has never been fully re-created in the following eras.  The American Elms of Central Park stand today as a living museum of the ideal American urban streetscape  of a long by-gone era.

We are going to examine the post Elm tree period leading right up to the present in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where we will find some magnificent re-creations of the cathedral of trees, as well as many bleak reminders of how far of a departure was made from the urban arboreal ideal  in the contemporary landscape, as pictured above.

These trees are not famous, and they are for the most part, experimental and barely able to survive some of the most harsh conditions possible, many of them diseased and stressed. However, these trees are loved by New Yorkers, and there is a re-newed appreciation for trees in general, from private development to urban planning, street trees are coming back into fashion!

 

 Upper East Side of Manhattan

Upper East Side of Manhattan

Above, the scene before us, architecturally, is a victim of the lack of taste in the twentieth century as well as the either completely lacking or incoherent public policy towards tree planting in the era.  Like in many places, this part of Manhattan was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Honey Locust, Lexington Ave, Manhattan

Honey Locust, Lexington Ave, Manhattan

Into the 100s along Lexington Ave, we find ourselves in a well preserved neighborhood architecturally, and we are able to read the landscape from the point of view of the intentions of one era- late 19th century brownstones and apartment buildings. There are few trees, but we are seeing mature Honey-Locusts like the one pictured above, and recently planted White Oaks on some blocks.

Honey Locust trees, Upper East Side of Manhattan

Honey Locust trees, Upper East Side of Manhattan

The Honey Locust has been planted throughout the Upper East side of Manhattan, and is the most common street tree found.

Below, while the architecture is unfortunate save a couple of elegant curving walls, those involved with the planning stage of this structural outburst had good intentions and planted a row of Honey Locusts that create the effect of the Elm allee of America’s Main street. The result is at least a block that is possibly walkable, even at this bare minimum of aesthetic acceptability. This row of trees gives charm to what would otherwise be a completely unacceptable landscape.

  3rd Ave, Upper East Side of Manhattan

3rd Ave, Upper East Side of Manhattan

While the street trees above give life to a barren landscape, they add a pleasant dimension to the late 19th century urban landscape in contemporary use pictured below.

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

The apartments above, with the stores at the street level create a comfortable city, one that is idealized today in the present movement towards  a ‘new’ urbanization. The mature Honey-Locusts add another sweet layer to this modern ideal of the charming old city, re-energized and full of amenities; trees especially!

Ginko, Upper East Side of Manhattan

Ginko, Upper East Side of Manhattan

Ginko biloba

The Ginko tree can be found often enough on the streets of the Upper East Side. Note the distinctive branching habit of this tree, very noticeable in this specimen. The tree appears as if it is waving at you with its many, many arms. The unusual fan-shaped leaves turn a bright yellow in the fall.

Ginko, Upper East Side of Manhattan

Ginko, Upper East Side of Manhattan

Still a favorite, Ginko continues to be planted. On this street, this young specimen is planted alongside older ones, presumably to maintain the continuity of the species on the block. Isabelle poses with our host Paul.

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Here the Ginko trees are displaying their magnificence and street-tree savvy, creating for us the perfect fall day.

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

One has died on this row of Ginkos alongside Carl Shurz park. Notice how much the trees contribute to this urban scene. The East River adds even more to the naturalistic setting creating a sense of place to the concrete and asphalt grid of the city.

 

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

This next scene is a blend of mature Oaks and London Plane trees on this block of elegant brownstone rowhouses. The City of New York has done a great job in maintaining these trees over the years, keeping them pruned in a pleasing sustainable manner. The trees and the houses appear comfortable together, especially how the trees have been pruned so they lean away from them, so they are in no way threatening.

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

The oak tree has become increasingly common in recent times. On this block, somebody is very concerned about the trees, and has placed watering bags around them.  Now is the time to remove the bags, so mold does not develop around the tree. The best approach with using these bags is to zip them around the tree, fill them up and remove them the next day after they have slowly watered the tree for ten hours.

 

 Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Here a young oak tree is contributing to the renewed urban landscape: here can be seen that cities, trees and shrubs can be a very pleasant combination, and an economical one at that, as this restaurant exemplifies.

Below, the Oak trees here provide a much needed buffer between the apartment building and the highway.

 

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City                                                  
Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

On this block of Brownstones, the oaks are replacing the London Planes.

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Here is an American Elm, growing not from the curbside, but from the tiny garden in front of the Brownstone at the far left.

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

We encountered these Japanese cherry trees on our walk. These are very popular trees because of their blossoms.

On some streets, we find the scale of the trees with the brownstones very pleasing; the houses and the trees work together aesthetically to create an urban atmosphere that is settling.

The towering structures of housing that have become such an integral part of the contemporary global urban landscape clash with the urban ideal of scaled down 18th and 19th century buildings, renovated and updated, set in a landscape of trees and small parks.

The tall towers rise to the occasion, and fulfill the demand for populating these cities, but they fail miserably on fulfilling the ideal. We are now starting to see green roofs and green walls pop up here and there, and the wealthiest can have small trees on their rooftop terraces.

But now that we have settled on the ideal of trees and cities being together, that this is a winning combination economically, that people will pay for this, there needs to be creative solutions right away.

The picture to the left of the sad-looking Japanese Cherry trees illustrates the need for cities to adapt to the growing demand for ‘livability’.  Street trees are in demand. Maybe tall buildings can be designed with allees of trees on upper floors, using specimens that are small and can occupy pots. Street life could become elevated, with commerce on upper floors of buildings as well.

If cities are going to become the most desirable places to live, than they should be fitted with the most appropriate trees in as much space as possible, to create a place that is comfortable and truly fitting to the region of the city. Trees native to the region of the city would fall into the category of the most appropriate. These are the trees that will survive the climate the best, as well as be supporting to the habitat of native species of insects and birds that will add charm and the sense of place to the urban landscape. When thinking of native habitat, imagine crickets and fireflies, katydids and hummingbirds, just for starters, all in an urban neighborhood!

 

 

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

The Callery pear, a most unfortunate New York Street tree, native to East Asia, this tree has become problematic, with weak branches and a tendency to reseed itself in natural areas and has now become an invasive pest as well, this tree has not helped the cause of street tree appreciation. Cultivars such as the ‘Cleveland select’ have become recently fashionable because they do not have the problem of breaking branches and offer a more compact shape. These trees bloom for a short period in the Spring, and they hold their waxy leaves until very late in the fall.

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

In the picture above, we can see what a street tree must endure during its life; this London Plane has survived so far, with the metal grate protecting it. The grate is designed to be cut with a metal grinder at certain intervals of the tree’s growth. This grate is ready to be cut for the next  iteration of its life.

Street trees live a tough life and are subject to rigorous conditions: Low light, road salt, scraped off bark, dog poop, cat poop, poor soil conditions and reduced moisture from the asphalt and concrete surroundings,

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

Upper East Side Street Trees, New York City

As pictured above, Manhattan has an exemplary quality to show the distance of itself, as we see looking north on Lexington ave  at 101st towards 125th street. Looking off towards this horizon, we see trees off in the blocks ahead and our thoughts are directed towards this distance, where the sky meets the tops of the trees. Like the cities they inhabit, street trees are planted, growing, dying, falling and re-emerging or just emerging for the first time in a new incarnation as a street tree.

Street trees are very much the product of fashions and trends, many of which are no longer planted as frequently, and the final results are yet to come. Many trees become susceptible to disease and blight, and when this happens, woe is the block with all of the same species on it. Some trees like the Callery pear were just a mistake to begin with. As the trendy street trees of the recent past get older, we will be learning more of their problematic issues.

Female Ginkos drop some odorific fruits that could be classified as a problem by some and are harvested by others. This is still a time-tested tree with a degree of status in the realm of street trees. New ones such as the native Redbud and Serviceberry are on the horizon. New York City recommends that these trees be planted with a single stem, shunning the shrub-like tendencies of these two species for planting along the street.

New York City is fully aware of the problematic ones, and discourages them. Because of the Emerald Ash Borer, some trees are not recommended for planting at all in most boroughs.

New York City has launched an initiative to plant  one million trees by 2017.

Over 8000 trees were downed by Hurricane Sandy.

There is a trend towards diversity and trees that are native, and this is the result of many years of mistakes. The grand Allee of matching trees is being replaced with a smarter and a wizened, world weary approach to urban tree assemblages: More native, more hardy in harsh conditions, diverse in species and the least expensive to maintain.


Manhattan on Dwellable